“Actually, right before you called I was helping save a man from passing out at the store…”
Tammy Koslowski is a CNA from Massachusetts. Just moments before our interview she was out shopping when she noticed a man who looked like he needed help…
“Earlier today at the store I noticed a man across the aisle. He didn’t look too well; he was leaning over his cart and he just wasn’t acting right. It really seemed like he was struggling so I went over to him and asked how he was doing. He said he was diabetic so I said, ‘alright, let’s get you some orange juice, sit down, and wait for assistance.’ I alerted the people around me that he needed helped and they were quick to respond. We called for assistance, got him some juice, a stool, and just looked after him. He seemed embarrassed but I assured him it was going to be okay. Then the firemen and paramedics came and took him to take care of him… And then I proceeded with my day… I definitely think it’s my instincts as a nurse that’s allowed me to help people in situations like these… It’s just what I do. It’s who I am.”
Tammy grew up in a military family of chemists. Her parents own a chemistry company, and her family wanted her to follow in their footsteps. But for Tammy, it just wasn’t her calling. When she was younger, she was the one in her family who took care of her diabetic grandmother. So caring for people has always been a part of who she is.
“I always wanted to be a nurse. When I was little, like in the 6th grade, we did an adopted grandparents program. When I went into the nursing home and saw nurses and CNA’s doing their thing; caring for people, I thought ‘wow, I want to do that’… It’s challenging because the pandemic made nurses gett burn out and irritated. They haven’t been able to give the quality of care they used to be able to give. And you can feel the sadness amongst the residents because they can’t see their family the way they want to. So my goal is to just try and do something to brighten people’s day even a little bit. And I’m just an easy going person so I’ll try to bring the life back into a facility when I’m working a shift just by just having a positive attitude so that it can rub off on other CNA’s and nurses.”
Trying to pick people’s spirits up amidst a pandemic, understaffed shifts, and lonely residents is exhausting. So when Tammy has a moment for herself, she likes to go hiking when it’s warm out. She’s also taught herself how to crochet blankets and hats. She enjoys reading Stephen King novels and is currently reading The Outsider. Being a Stephen King buff, she said, “I know they made a show out of the book recently, but Stephen King is such a detailed writer, it’s just hard to compare”. She also takes some time out of her schedule to go on a vacation to recharge her nursing batteries. She hopes to either revisit Aruba because of how relaxing her stay was, or to go skiing with family in Germany. Though big vacations aren’t safe at the moment, over the summer she managed to take a weekend to hike the white mountains in New Hampshire. “You have to make the time to getting out and staying active. It’s healthy for body and soul, too.”
Before using IntelyCare, agencies denied her from taking holidays off to see her family in Germany. But with IntelyCare, she’s able to work on her own terms which has allowed her to see her family more. For Tammy, the ability to have that flexibility is priceless. Before using IntelyCare she recalls her work feeling like “groundhog day; just the same thing over and over.” Staying focused and compassionate as a caregiver used to be hard for her when her days were like that.
“The last straw for me working in a facility was this: My partner at the time was in the military and was deployed. I didn’t see him for a year. I asked a month in advance for one day off on Veterans Day to take him out and I still got denied. It was devastating… They knew it too. They knew he was coming home for a month and they couldn’t give me that one day… That’s when I said, ‘no more’, and I put my two weeks notice in.”
Tammy’s biggest piece of advice for people is to do what makes them happy. People are drawn to nursing because they’re driven by a sense of compassion for others. But along the way, tough working conditions burn them out. So when she sees her fellow nurses and CNA’s experiencing burnout, she’s quick to recommend the solution.
“The other day I was getting some blood work done and the CNA was telling me about how she was a single mom and the facility was giving her similar problems. So I said, ‘check out IntelyCare. It’s going to help you the way it helped me’… I was actually on a zoom call with some other CNA’s for the nursing program I’m doing and they were talking about their less-than-great experience working with facilities and I just kept saying ‘I actually love my job now, it’s stress free’… And it’s crazy, I see it in other IntelyPros too. They’re just like me, they’re stress free and they bring such positivity with them. They have pride and confidence in their work, and it shows.”
Finding your voice in the workplace can be difficult.
For some, speaking up comes naturally. But for others, it’s challenging to feel comfortable advocating for their patients, coworkers, or themselves in a work environment. And to be honest, not all workplaces have an environment that encourages you to be an advocate. But in those environments, especially in the nursing, it’s even more important to find your voice before you feel burned out in your nursing job.
When something doesn’t feel right in your workplace, it can be hard to introduce changes in a productive way. These tips can help you advocate for yourself in a productive way.
Listen To Your Patients
Nurses have been their patient’s best advocates since nursing became a profession. One of the best ways to advocate for yourself is to listen to your patients. Advocating for them is a productive way to advocate for yourself, so remember to value your patients and listen to their needs
Giving high quality care to your patients means that you’re engaged, focused, and happy at work. So if there are improvements that can make your work-life better, it can have a direct impact on the quality of care you are able to provide for your facility.
Talk To Your Colleagues
It’s much harder to advocate for yourself when you’re doing it alone. If there’s something about your work-life that’s bothering you, bring it up to a coworker and see if they experience the same issues. You may find that you’re not alone in recognizing ways to improve your work. Sometimes you may find that multiple staff members are experiencing the same problem. In that case, there will be more of a reason for your facility to implement changes.
But even if you don’t have colleagues that share your goals, it’s still important to keep open lines of communication between you, your management team, and your coworkers. As opposed to demanding changes, try to work with your DON and upper management to solve the problems at hand. A teamwork mentality goes a long way when solving the problems that affect your work-life.
Stay in-the-know about current topics, trends, and issues in the nursing industry. For example, joining the American Nurses Association is a way to tap into a support system and become an informed nursing professional. By joining organizations focused on nurses, you have the opportunity to make new connections, discover new opportunities, or get valuable guidance on how to make the most of your nursing career.
If you ever need to propose a change to your facility management, remember to always be respectful of the different issues your administration deals with. Sometimes a facility simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to implement changes, even if your colleagues or fellow organization members suggest them. In this case, be open to working with your management team to find different ways to make positive changes to the work-life of you and your fellow staff.
Explore New Work Options
Caregivers often find themselves working with low staffing levels, rigid schedules, long working hours in an over demanding environment, little career growth opportunity, uncompetitive pay, and undesirable benefits. Innovative per-diem nursing options that bring freedom, quality, and stability to your work-life can help you solve stress-related work issues.
Become an IntelyPro today if a nursing life you enjoy is what you need!