Shannon Williams is a mother from Perryopolis, Pennsylvania. She’s an LPN who found her calling in geriatric nursing. Her career began when she was 22, working at a nursing facility in her hometown. “I loved nursing, and I loved the geriatric field. I stepped away for some time, but I made my way back to the field. The hardest part is seeing wonderful people with kind souls age and pass away. Losing the residents never gets easy. That’s why I stepped away when I was younger. I wasn’t ready for the emotional commitment of bearing with the loss of somebody.” She became a CNA, but took a break and gave graphic arts a try for a short time.
“Once I got pregnant with my son, I decided I was going to go back to nursing school. Even though it was hard, it felt like my calling. I wanted a career and not just a job. That way, I could support and take care of my son without worrying about the future. Taking that step forward with my education was a moment of clarity for me.” When she went to nursing school, she met an awesome group of friends with whom she’s friends to this day. “We still get together on the anniversary of our graduation for dinner and to chat about our jobs, our kids, and our lives in general.”
Now, Shannon is back in school working towards becoming an RN. “I’m in school trying to get my RN which is a lot harder than when I was younger. While I’m in school, I work per diem for IntelyCare on a schedule that works for me.” Shannon hit a rough patch in her life that was hard to overcome. But she got through it by taking care of residents that touched her heart. “The residents got me through it,” she says. “It was an emotionally tough part of my life, but the ability to find the facility that was the right fit for me helped a lot.” Shannon tried a couple of other facilities through IntelyCare, saying, “it wasn’t that other facilities didn’t work. I was just able to find the facility that was right for me, given what I needed in my life at the time.”
Before working at nursing facilities, Shannon had a full-time home care nursing job. She applied for IntelyCare to pick up a couple of shifts each week to increase her hours and round out her income. But then the agency she used stopped staffing at the facility she loved. “So I asked what other agencies they use for staffing. When they told me they used IntelyCare, I told them I was already working as an IntelyPro. So all I had to do was pick up more shifts at that facility. I’m just glad that switch worked out so easily.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Shannon saw how COVID-19 affected the residents in different ways. “I saw how hard COVID was on the residents, not just because of the virus but because facilities had to lockdown. Residents couldn’t see their families or do the activities that gave them life. I saw many residents fall into a depression because they were unable to see their families. Some of them passed away shortly after that.” Dealing with that kind of loss is one of the most difficult aspects of long-term care nursing. And it doesn’t get easier.
Shannon mentions that it’s on nurses to give residents extra care to help the residents feel cared for and keep their spirits up, even when staffing levels are kept low due to COVID-19 guidelines. “We put on ice cream parties, Bingo nights, and play them the music they enjoy. We do what we can to keep them active and engaged, giving a sense of normalcy that can help keep them positive and happy.”
After a tough day, Shannon looks forward to listening to music on her ride home from the facility. “Before the chaos of picking my kids up from school, getting them to their activities, and making dinner, listening to music helps me reset. I’ve loved Smashing Pumpkins since the ’90s, so they’re a group I’ll listen to a lot.”
When the world is safe enough from COVID-19, Shannon looks forward to taking her family to concerts again. “I took both my kids to see a Weezer concert. Both of them loved it! They played a lullaby-type song at around 10 pm, which is already past my daughter’s bedtime. She was fast asleep on my shoulder after that song!”
Shannon and her family recently got interested in kayaking. She got her daughter a kayak a couple of years ago, but she finally got out to use it last summer due to the pandemic. “My daughter kept asking me, ‘when are we going kayaking again?’ I have to keep telling her that there’s still snow on the ground, so we can’t go on the water yet!” Even when Shannon is busy with nursing, taking care of her kids, and discovering new hobbies, she finds time to practice getting her HAM radio license!
Reminiscing on her nursing career, Shannon looks back, saying, “I’d tell my younger self to finish my education early and not when I’m older because it’s a lot harder.” She often trains new team members and has valuable pieces of advice for new nurses. “I was training a new nurse who was very prepared for the job, but she was a little nervous. I said to make sure she stays calm, ad to try not to take any critique personally or let it fluster her. I told her, ‘you don’t have to know everything right off the bat, so make sure to ask lots of questions.’”
Shannon remembers being a new nurse, feeling unsure about when to ask questions or speak up. When management changes or when new nurses take a shift, information can get lost in translation. She recalls a time early in her nursing career when a whole floor of nurses got written up for administering an old medication dosage due to a miscommunication on the floor. “Even though I wasn’t involved in that incident, it was a wake-up call for me to realize that even if it feels like a menial question or task, I should always ask questions and be on top of little details. If I’m on top of all the details, I could help prevent a real problem like that from occurring.”
To this day, her fondest memory in nursing was when she went back to one of her old home health clients and was greeted with a smile. “It felt so good to see an old face again, and it warmed my heart to know that he recognized me and was happy to see me.”
Shannon learned a lot in her nursing career, and we are supporting her and her fellow IntelyPros in providing the freedom and flexibility she needs in continuing her journey as an IntelyPro.
If a nursing career that empowers you to live the life you want to live sounds like the right option for you, then become an IntelyPro today!
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