National Nurses Week: Recognizing PSL Nurses
Each year from May 6 to 12, the American Nurses Association celebrates National Nurses Week. This week was first brought to life in the early 1950s to recognize the honest and ethical profession of nursing. The week was officially deemed National Nurses Week by the White House in 1974 when President Nixon issued a proclamation. The week ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is widely known as the founder of modern nursing.
Here at Presbyterian Senior Living, we take pride in our nursing staff and the care they provide. Nurses at PSL play a vital role in the health and safety of the residents we serve. This week we are featuring five nurses from several randomly selected PSL communities that exemplify the values and qualities necessary to inspire, innovate and influence in their roles as nursing professionals.
Christina Truss is the Director of Nursing at Kirkland Village.Truss started her journey with PSL 20 years ago as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). Over time, she worked her way through the levels, becoming an RN (Registered Nurse), then the Assistant Director of Nursing and finally to her current position of Director of Nursing.
She started her nursing education directly after high school at St. Luke’s Universal Health Network and Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Truss’ godmother was a nurse in the Lehigh Valley area, which ultimately inspired her to pursue the nursing field.
During her time at PSL and through her various positions, Truss feels she has grown as a nurse; she has seen a change in healthcare, from the age of residents to the impact nurses have on their residents. Truss’ favorite part of being a nurse is education, whether it is learning something new herself or having the opportunity to teach others. Getting to connect with patients and their families are memories that stand out to Truss.
Truss' career impacts her not only in the work place, but also in her personal life. Because of what Truss experiences on a daily basis, she was able to guide her grandparents with both healthcare and insurance decisions they had to make. Looking back, Truss says the opportunity to be an advocate for her grandparents really reinforced her choice to become a nurse.
In the future, Truss would like to see facilities provide more assistance for upcoming nurses, whether it be more reasonable education prices, tuition reimbursements or employers providing motivation for their employees to grow.
One piece of advice Truss has for new nurses is to take every chance they get to learn from their colleagues and supervisors. She says, “Watching and observing is key.”
Dailia Chambers, known fondly by her coworkers as Miss Dee or Momma Dee, has been an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) with PSL for 13 years. She is a charge nurse in the rehabilitation unit at Westminster Village at Allentown (WVA). Chambers worked as a CNA for 25 years before she decided she wanted to sharpen her skills and go back to school to become a LPN. She attended Northampton Community College for her LPN certification.
Chambers says she loves her job at PSL and WVA because she believes in the philosophy of serving the mind, body and spirit of the residents she cares for. She feels that when you focus on the person as a whole, rather than just pain management, the resident will have the opportunity for a better outcome and will function better within the community. Chambers says, “People bring their loved ones to us. They consciously chose WVA and trust us to provide the best care we can. I don’t take that for granted. I always give 100 percent and more.”
Throughout her life, Chambers always had people coming to her asking for advice or telling her their life story. This is ultimately what inspired her to become a nurse. She says she’s always had an affinity for helping people and that she really wants to make a difference in people’s lives. “If I can make one person’s day better, I’ve met my goal,” says Chambers.
She recalls one resident specifically that refers to her as Mom—“She always looks forward to me coming in at night. She doesn’t know I am not her mom, so I guess the way I interact with her brings back memories of her mother. I go out of my way to find things that she likes to give her some comfort.”
The best part of Chambers’ job is working with residents who are unable to carry out a specific task and helping them meet their goals. Watching them go home able to do what was once impossible can be extremely rewarding.
When Chambers became a caregiver to her ill husband of 35 years, she knew that becoming a nurse had been the right choice for her. Her knowledge and experience allowed for her to be her husband's voice throughout his journey with his illness, as well as being able to care for his day to day needs.
For the future of nursing, Chambers hopes to see more nurses emphasizing hands-on care and spending less time in front of a computer. “Hands-on interaction in a genuine way is the best learning opportunity for new nurses. It makes them want to improve themselves.”
One piece of advice Chambers has for nurses in training is to be honest, respectful and trustworthy. Respecting all people, no matter their culture or social status is extremely important to her. Chambers tries to give everyone she works with and everyone she cares for 100 percent respect, because she feels she must lead by example. Chambers has found great success with this attitude, as she loves coming into work each day because her team is also her second family.
Natasha Montanez has been an LPN with PSL's Westminster Village at Allentown for 5 years. Montanez started out her career after high school as a customer service representative. After two years of working at a desk, she knew she needed a change and a job where she could be more active. Her mother was a CNA for 10 years, so she decided to pursue a path to becoming a CNA.
She started at a location that offered CNA training and worked there for 7 years. Throughout her time at that job, her work ethic and skills were constantly complimented by her coworkers, so she decided to pursue her nursing career further and go to school to become an LPN. Montanez attended Lehigh Carbon Community College for her LPN certification and soon after accepted a position with PSL as a floor nurse.
When Montanez imagined her career path, she did not know she would become a nurse. After she went through training and was assigned to a unit, she fell in love with the profession and learned that caring for people was her passion. Montanez’s grandmother was very compassionate and caring and was always a huge part of her life. Because of this, she feels like her position as a LPN is her homage to her grandmother.
“What being a nurse at PSL has shown me is that no matter what age, gender, or sex someone is, they always have something to offer. There is a great opportunity for personal growth when you listen to the people you serve.”
Montanez says the best part of her job is knowing that the care she provides has a positive impact on the residents she serves. She loves knowing that her residents look forward to her coming into work.
One instance Montanez recalls that really impacted her was when she returned to care for a resident after she had been on vacation. This resident was Spanish speaking only, so she had a language barrier with many other residents and staff. When Montanez returned, the resident cried and expressed to her how much she had missed her and that she loved her like a daughter. That was a moment that Montanez says really reinforced her decision to become a nurse.
In the future, Montanez would like to see the nursing profession receive the same respect and acknowledgement that other professions like doctors and lawyers receive. She feels that being a nurse is a difficult job that not everyone can do, and for that she thinks it deserves recognition.
For nurses in training, Montanez says to always be open because nursing is always evolving.
Dana Yocum started her journey with PSL 15 years ago. She is currently a RN Supervisor and floor nurse at Westminster Woods at Huntingdon. Yocum always knew she wanted to be a nurse. One thing she specifically remembers that inspired her to become a nurse was watching the nurses who cared for her grandfather during his final days and seeing the difference they made in his care and comfortability.
Directly after high school she attended Altoona School of Nursing for her RN certification. Yocum’s favorite part of her job is the hands-on interaction she gets with the residents and their families. During her career she has turned down many administrative positions because she loves working on the floor, not behind a desk.
Early on in Yocum’s career at PSL, her grandmother was a resident in the personal care unit she worked in. Her grandmother was the first resident to pass away in that unit while Yocum was on duty, so she was able to care for her during her last moments. Yocum says that this really impacted her and solidified her reasoning for becoming a nurse. “Being able to be there for my grandmother as both a caregiver and a family member was really calming for not only me, but for the rest of my family as well. I had less anxiety about the whole thing knowing that I was the one caring for her.”
Yocum’s nursing career has definitely influenced her personal life. “Seeing some of the residents’ family members’ level of love and commitment to their loved one really inspires me. I strive to have that same level of love and care for my loved ones, especially if I ever become a caregiver for another member of my family.”
One of Yocum’s favorite memories of being a nurse was receiving a letter of thanks from a resident’s family member. The resident she had been caring for had cognitive impairments, and when she became anxious she actively focused on Yocum to calm her down. The family member wrote in his letter that she was such a calming influence in his mother’s life and that he really appreciated all she had done for her. “Things like that really make all the hard stuff about being a nurse completely worth it,” said Yocum.
In her time as a long term care nurse, Yocum has seen how the level of care has changed. She says it is no longer residents coming in for general health decline, but more often residents are coming in for more acute illnesses that would typically be cared for in a hospital setting. Because of this, she would like to see more nurses working without fear of the future.
One piece of advice she has for upcoming nurses is to get as much clinical experience as possible.
Diana Harter is the Director of Nursing at Presbyterian Village at Hollidaysburg. She has been a nurse for 44 years and has worked at PSL for the past 17 years. Harter went to school to become a RN directly after high school at the Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. She worked her entire way through nursing school as a medical technician. Once she started her path to becoming a nurse, Harter says she never looked back. Of her 44 years in nursing, Harter only had one summer off, where she taught conversational English in Japan.
During her time as a nurse with PSL, Harter feels as though she has been impacted by many of her residents—“ You can learn a lot by listening to a resident. They can really show you what is important in life.”
One favorite memory Harter can recall during her time at PSL is when she was working in a wound rounds rotation. Her training taught her to help residents focus on something other than the wounds they were re-dressing. She had one resident she worked with daily who loved birds. During her wound cleaning, Harter would discuss her bird feeder with her. Harter says this resident really taught her a lot about birds. One day, the resident said to her, “I would do anything to go out and feel the breeze on my face again.” Harter reflected on this memory – “I thought to myself, ‘Why not?’ So I took her outside and after we came in she told me this was the best day she’s had in a very long time. It’s little things like that that really make being a nurse so worth it. You really have the opportunity to impact people’s lives, even if it’s just with the little things.”
Harter says that seeing residents choose to live their lives positively in the midst of any ailments they may have is inspiring to her, and pushes her to help each and every one of them with favors small and large. She loves seeing residents set goals and helping them to achieve them.
Although Harter thinks the advancement of technology in her career has been fabulous to watch, in the future, she would like to see nurses pay less attention to technology and pay more attention to residents.
One piece of advice Harter has for upcoming nurses is to seek out a mentor. She says the first year out of school is full of the most valuable experiences, and that nurses should take every opportunity to learn anything that comes their way.
Harter says that working with a great team really matters and that she is honored to work with her coworkers at PSL. She hopes all nurses in the future will give their best effort to be the best team player they can.
If these stories have resonated with you, you may be a great fit for a position at a PSL community. Check out our available opportunities in your area, and don't forget to thank a nurse this week!