A conversation with some of Transitions’ CNAs –  Lourdes Cepero, Samantha Burgess, Kaitlyn Watson and Kristina Rasmussen. In honor of CNA week from June 17th to June 24th, we wanted to highlight some of the CNAs that make Transitions successful. 

Certified Nurses Assistants (CNAs) are an essential part of the hospice care team. At Transitions, we want our patients to live as comfortably as possible, and the work that CNAs do is at the heart of living happily and comfortably for all of our patients. Thank you, CNAs, for all you do!

In honor of National Nursing Assistants Week being celebrated June 17-24, we spoke with a few of Transitions’ CNAs – Lourdes Cepero, Samantha Burgess, Kaitlyn Watson, and Kristina Rasmussen – to discuss their work, why they joined Transitions, advice for aspiring CNAs and more.  Below are some highlights from our conversations: 

Q: Why did you join the Transitions team? 

There are many reasons why people enter the hospice industry, and it is known that it takes a special type of person to provide high quality care. When we asked Lourdes Cepero, a CNA in Chicagoland, why she joined the team, she told us that “No one dies alone. To me this value is very important – the end of life should be as important as the beginning of life for the families and patients, no matter what the circumstance. For me, being there to make their journey as beautiful and peaceful as possible and to support their loved ones is what makes this job worthwhile.” 

Samantha Burgess, a CNA in our Central West region, cited the importance and impact of hospice care as the reason she joined the team – “This isn’t just a job for money, this isn’t just a job to pay bills, and it’s definitely not just a job for those who don’t have the time to give up a little part of your life when you are needed. I can’t count up the endless hours, nights or days sitting bedside holding a hand, putting my fingers through a patient’s hair while they’re passing, telling them “It’s okay, we’re here and not leaving you!” It can be very heartbreaking but also fulfilling knowing you’re helping and loving someone else and their family during one of the toughest times in their lives!”

Others have had more personal experiences that have called them into hospice work, such as Kristina Rasmussen, a CNA in McHenry. When asked why she joined Transitions, Kristina shared, “I joined Transitions Hospice after my mother lost her battle with a rare cancer in November of 2020. After being diagnosed, she lived comfortably at home for three weeks surrounded by all her loved ones. I was her primary caregiver during her last weeks. Managing that time with my mom and providing her post-mortem care was a very humbling experience for me. Our hospice nurse mentioned that I should consider being in this career path and the rest is history!” 

Whatever brought our CNAs to Transitions, we are grateful that they chose us as the place where they would let their passions shine and dedication to care blossom. 

Q: What does it take to be a Transitions CNA? 

Being a CNA is not easy, and we understand that our CNAs go the extra mile to do their jobs effectively. It takes “commitment, accountability, and someone who understands that this is not just a 9-to-5 job, but a blessing that families of our patients have trusted us with their loved ones regarding their transition and their health,” said Kaitlyn Watson, a CNA in Central West. 

When we asked Lourdes what she thought it took to be a Transitions CNA, she told us that “you must be compassionate, courageous, and comfortable with uncertainty. End-of life care requires a tailored plan to serve each patient’s unique needs and situations. Being sympathetic, patient, calm under pressure and communication are the keys to success. Understanding different cultural needs and wants and going above and beyond make this job even more impactful! When you understand the patient’s emotional, physical and mental needs at the end of life, you are doing your job right.” 

On another note, Samantha referenced the team approach that Transitions takes when asked about what it takes to be successful as a CNA, saying, “I absolutely love the teamwork that my region has, from the nurses to the CNAs to Social Service and our Chaplains, I just can’t stress how lucky I am having the team that I do. I have never worked anywhere where the nurses chip-in and help change or shower patients, but here everyone is willing to help and we are all treated as equals.” 

Kristina had a similar response, she said, “Experiences with my team have been amazing. We communicate great and work together to provide the best care for our patients.” 

Q: What would you tell other CNAs who are considering a career in hospice? 

Transitions is always looking to grow our family, so we decided to ask our star CNAs what advice they would give aspiring CNAs and nurses who are thinking about hospice care. Kristina described a career path as a hospice CNA as “emotional, yet rewarding.”. She continued by saying that it “is the hardest time in someone’s life and we’re not just here to provide direct care, but emotional support for the patient and their families. If you have a passion to provide excellent care and are able to calmly support others, you’ll find this career just as rewarding as I do.”  

Lourdes struck a similar chord as Kristina when we asked her for some advice for CNAs, saying that hospice CNAs must “Be proud to make a difference in people’s lives and to be able to help others. CNAs Get to be someone’s person when they feel as if they have no one else, 

and most of all it takes a special person, a unique person to be in hospice.” 

According to Kaitlyn, aspiring CNAs need to “be able to communicate well, provide excellent teamwork with your coworkers, and sometimes know each week may be different regarding patients and the needs of your region.” 

No matter what, it takes a caring, compassionate, and special person to be a hospice CNA. Thank you to all of our CNAs and happy CNA Week 2021 – we appreciate you more than you know.