“Patricia is truly an inspiration and deserves to be recognized as an outstanding nurse and ambassador for our profession. She is a role model who believes in continuing education and expertise to provide the best care not only to our residents but to her staff and community.”
This shower of praise introduced us to Patricia Bush, RN, BSN, our May Nurse of the Month. Her first nursing home experience began at the tender age of 14, working in the kitchen, where she immediately sowed happy seeds of connection with the residents. After 16 years as an emergency room nurse, she transitioned to long-term care. Today, Patricia is Director of Nursing at Haskell County Nursing Center, an 80-bed facility in Stigler, Oklahoma.
Patricia’s Calling was Nursing
Patricia had her first child at age 16, became a CNA at 17, and pursued an LPN certificate right after high school. Her son – and her desire to be a nurse – arrived at the same time.
“The nurses in the hospital where my son was born had a huge impact on me. Even though I was under age, they were so compassionate. I decided then that was something I could do and wanted to do.”
Patricia loved nursing from the start, a feeling that’s grown since she moved to long-term care.
“I grew up with just two grandparents, so I think of our residents as my other grandparents. There’s no way you can’t get attached to them. They affect the way you view family, and relationships with your own family and friends. I make sure I stay connected with loved ones.”
A Facility Blooming with Tech and Attitude
People outside nursing think that long-term care nurses just maintain residents – not! Everyone at Patricia’s facility really gets involved, and are “all in” with their commitment to residents.
“Management is very hands-on and requires departments engage. We have staff-resident socialization, with activities where both groups work together. A staff member might choose one resident or an entire team to participate in a project, so everyone feels showered with attention. The activities are geared for all ages, so they’re great for everyone!”
“We’re all about making the most of life…like last year, when we had a fall formal for our residents. We invited the community, which made donations, too. Our residents absolutely loved it, and our community saw first-hand that we provide much more than end-of-life care.”
Tech has helped Patricia provide better care for patients and residents throughout her career.
“At first, like most people, I wasn’t sure about new technology. It means change, especially when electronic charts take us to a new era where we’re not killing so many trees. Now, we access information that took forever to find. It’s great to incorporate labs, test results and everything in one place, a godsend for continuity of care.”
LTC Nursing Has Sunshine and Rain
As an LTC nurse, Patricia has to anticipate and maneuver through potholes and boulders.
“Dealing with families can be tough, trying to get them to understand the aspects of care we provide. Staffing’s a huge problem, too. Thankfully, our turnover is less than that of other facilities because we offer more positive opportunities for our employees.”
Are you considering a career in nursing? Patricia says, ”jump in with both feet,” and connect with someone who will help you along the way. Personally, being an LTC nurse has significantly changed her life.
“A lot of our residents don’t have families, so we’re their families and treat them as family. I love communicating and building relationships with them. I’m a very hands-on director of nursing, so I like to hang out with my staff and help them if they need it. When residents and staff are happy, you have a happier environment – and a much better place to live and work!”
Seeds of Hope for her Kids, Herself and the Nursing Profession
As the brave mom of six teenagers, Patricia looks forward to the time when they’ll all be off to college. Her daughter’s already following in her footsteps; she began working in the nursing home kitchen at age 14, and as a CNA at 16.
“I want to help all my kids be in a position to succeed in life. As for me, I’m shocked and very appreciative with this recognition. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, in a very rural community, so it’s a huge honor for this to happen. And in ten years, I plan to be the administrator of our building.”
Patricia is optimistic that the WHO’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife will encourage more nurses to join the profession, and create a more diverse nursing population. As for lessons learned as a nurse, Patricia identifies the most important one in a single word.
“You must have respect – for CNAs, LPNS and everyone on your staff – and encourage respect in return. If you don’t have teamwork, and an environment where people respect each other, chaos reigns. I was very young when I became a nurse, and learned some lessons the hard way. But now I know that it all comes down to respect.”
Patricia’s earned a ton of respect – and we’re proud to recognize her as our May Spotlight Nurse. We know she’ll continue to shine!