In honor of National Nurses Week, Melissa Weber, RN, BSN, Director of Clinical Operations for Transitions Hospice, explains her journey to nursing and what makes hospice nurses so unique. At Transitions, we couldn’t do what we do or be who we are without the tireless dedication of our hospice nurses. This week and every week, we salute and honor our amazing nursing team. Happy Nurses Week!
From as early as I can remember, I always wanted to be a nurse. I was drawn toward helping care for people ever since I was a young child. I became a volunteer at a hospital when I was in high school and had the opportunity to transport people in and out of the hospital. That opportunity gave me the chance to meet all kinds of people with diverse reasons as to why they were there. I also learned about the vast array of emotions that occur when someone is going home.
After that, I became certified as a nursing assistant. I did my training in a state run nursing home. For those who have never been in a state run nursing home, consider yourself lucky! It made me sad to see so many people in a place like that, receiving such poor care. After I completed my courses, I was scared to take a nursing assistant job. I was scared that all places would be like the state run home and I wouldn’t be able to do enough to help people the way I wanted to. So, I took a job as waitress for a little while but always found my mind wandering back to healthcare. Finally, I listened to that voice in my head and got a job with a different nursing home. I worked at a couple of nursing homes that weren’t the right fit before I finally got an opportunity to work for the one that I really wanted!
I trained on the dementia unit and met someone that changed my perspective as a nursing assistant. She was an amazing nurse’s assistant and taught me so much. I learned about time management and how to treat each patient uniquely. As a morning aide, you only have so much time to get up 10-15 patients before breakfast, make sure they are all dressed, clean, hair combed, make up on, nails clean and painted and to ensure they were all ready for the day. This is not an easy task. It was during this time that I learned my work was not about me. It was about getting to know each patient and making sure they were able to have the best possible day. It was then that I really learned how each patient’s needs are unique and it is up to us as health care providers to meet those needs every day.
I learned a lot in that role and decided to go back to school. I obtained my LPN license and worked at the same nursing home while I finished my RN license. I shared my knowledge and helped others grow into new positions. I loved working with my team! We supported each other and got stuff done as a team. I learned quickly if we didn’t work together, it was hard to get the work done. Each day is different in nursing and you cannot do it without a strong and supportive team around you every day.
When I moved into my first supervisory position, I realized I had a big learning curve. I was now supervising people that had been my peers. But my boss, the Director of Nursing, was someone I looked up to and she taught me a lot about leadership. She was strong, knowledgeable, confident but firm when she had to be and a great team player. She was not one to hide in her office; she would pass trays, help new nurses, and hold staff accountable when needed. I looked up to her as a leader, and strived to grow under her. I learned that the most important thing I could to for others was to lead by example. I wanted to be part of a team, be able to help people grow, teach them new skills and watch them flourish. I also always wanted to continue to grow myself so I could help more people.
I moved into hospice 7 years ago and have never looked back. I love working in a field where you are privileged to share such special moments with others. We get to spend more time making people feel good. We get to create special bonds with patients and families. I just told another nurse that felt she doesn’t get to use her skills enough, that every nurse can do skills with practice but every nurse cannot be a great hospice nurse. It takes a special type of person to do what we do and do it well. To be impactful with every patient and family, to share space at the end of life is a unique honor that every hospice nurse should be proud to do.
What we do at Transitions Hospice is not easy by any means. However, what we do is meaningful and unforgettable, not only to our patients and families but also to us as nurses. I couldn’t imagine a better or more dedicated group of people to work alongside with. I feel privileged everyday to be a part of this team. I have personally seen the difference that we make in the lives of others every single day. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have picked a different path. I am so proud to be a nurse and even more proud to stand alongside all of the wonderful nurses at Transitions Hospice.
Written by Melissa Weber, Director of Clinical Operations, Transitions Hospice
Melissa has been in the medical field for over 13 years ranging from skilled nursing facilities to hospice. She received an Associates Degree in nursing from Morton College and a BSN from Chamberlain College. She has been with Transitions for 3 years and currently oversees clinical field operations for all service areas. In her spare time, she enjoys running marathons and spending time with her 4 children.