( Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun / December 18, 2012 )
What does a visiting nurses job entail?
In my role as a visiting nurse I provide treatment and health education to the patient, and often their family, in the patients home environment. This care is often needed after the patient is discharged from the hospital or rehabilitation, long-term care, or skilled nursing facility. I often coordinate with the patients family and/or caregiver, primary care physician, medical supply providers, and pharmacies to provide the optimal treatment plan for that particular patient. I also coordinate care with the other disciplines MedStar VNA often provides to the patient, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and medical social work. Teaching may be related to a number of disease processes such as diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, hypertension, or coronary artery disease. The patient may, and often does, require instruction pertaining to their medication regimen. Many patients are unaware of why they are taking certain medications and the impact these medications have on their health. Treatments frequently performed include dressing changes to wounds and/or surgical incisions, drawing lab specimens, or maintenance of a central line the patient has been discharged home with.
What kind of schooling or training did you go through?
I received my associates degree in nursing from Catonsville Community College in 1990. Since that time I have worked on medsurg units, in the emergency room, recovery room, and telemetry units. I have 3 years experience traveling to area hospitals and working in their ICUs.
What inspired you to this career?
I left the ICU setting so that I would have the opportunity to provide care to patients before the ICU became a need. It is my hope to provide the teaching necessary to keep people out of the hospital, and particularly the ICU.
What do you like best about your job?
Working for MedStar VNA offers me the opportunity to see people in their own home setting, offering them the knowledge they need to stay out of the hospital. As a mother of triplets, I find it also affords me the flexibility I need regarding the children and their needs. I am able to balance both my career and family, feeling satisfied at having performed well in both roles.
What are the challenges?
The biggest challenge I face in this role is often persuading the patient that changes in their current lifestyle are key to their quality of life, as well as longevity. I have discovered that once trust in you as a knowledgeable professional who is genuinely concerned for their welfare is engendered, the patient is more open to these making these changes.
Average salary is probably $55,000 to $70,000.