Mom’s Experience & My Desire to go to Nursing School
My first exposure to the world of healthcare dates back to 2004 at the age of 18. My mom encountered a near-death experience from a rare illness that affected a very small margin of the world’s population, Tuberculosis Meningitis. This illness resulted in short-term memory loss, a permanent cerebral shunt placement, two strokes, a drug interaction that left her almost completely blind and multiple hospital readmissions. During our time in the hospital setting, my family faced significant vulnerability from the healthcare system. We were unaware of the resources available to aid us through this difficult time, but more importantly, we were unaware of whom to trust in my mother’s healing. Throughout my mother’s transition back home, my sister and I inadvertently filled the role of an absent care team. My sister played the role of her pharmacist by filling her medication box daily and educating herself on each medication, while I provided nursing support, assisting my mother with her activities of daily living, scheduling follow-up appointments and ensuring she had a caregiver at any given time. Ironically, this very situation allowed us to discover our professional calling. My sister went on to complete her pharmacy degree, while I pursued a path in nursing; with our mother being our first patient.
My Care Management Role & the Shift in Healthcare
Nearly a decade later marked a similar situation in in my life. I was presented with a challenge by a group of physicians to plant seeds for a Transitional Care Management (TCM) program, as our physicians strived to fill in the communication gaps of their patients’ healthcare after transition from an inpatient setting. This significantly impacted the quality of care they were able to provide, and the unknown created a mistrust amongst their patient population. In developing the TCM program, much of what I discovered was similar to my mother’s experience – many patients continued to transition home without the necessary resources or “tools” to succeed, resulting in patients failing in the home and being readmitted to the hospital.
In developing the TCM program, it was inevitable to face more failures than successes, as our healthcare system has become siloed, with a belief that individually, we can achieve the greatest success. As a result, I discovered that the most dangerous phase commonly used in our healthcare system today is, “we’ve always done it this way.” Therefore, I accepted a personal and professional mission on behalf of patients to help rebuild our healthcare community by establishing links in healthcare settings through building sincere relationships focused on communication and collaboration. The extensive training to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, provider groups and clinicians across our healthcare spectrum has reshaped our community. The most rewarding feelings is seeing our community unite as a team of cheerleaders for our patients. Now, when our patients succeed, we all succeed.
My research focuses on capturing the lived experience of caregivers to a family member who have been denied placement to a higher level of care (skilled nursing facility) by a Medicare Advantage payer. Currently, Medicare Advantage payers require a standardized authorization process for all patients needing to transition from a hospital or home setting to a skilled nursing facility; a process that is lengthy and often requires an adverse event to already have taken place rather than its prevention. Furthermore, there is minimal emphasis placed on the caregiver’s wellbeing, often identified as the “forgotten patient”, which can directly impact the wellbeing of the patient. It’s believed that patient stories offer significant value and this research focus will explore caregivers’ short and long-term lived experience upon a skilling nursing facility denial to better understand the descriptions and interpretations of the barriers and burdens faced amongst caregivers.
My Thanks to the Nursing Profession
The nursing profession truly serves as a central hub filled with incredible healthcare professionals and mentors who have taught me sincere lessons and advanced my perspective for the nursing profession. I cannot be more grateful for the diverse platforms nursing has provided me to showcase my inner creativity and use that drive to network, create and educate a community to push patient care forward through different healthcare facets. Regardless of which roles we serve, if we care enough, we truly have what it takes to change the world.