From Corporate to Care
Posted by Linda Ranahan, RN, CHPN
I spent more than a decade focused on a career with GE, specializing in customer service and then finance. My business career even briefly took me from Chicago to Baltimore and Philadelphia, managing an entire sales region on the East Coast.
In the early 1990s, my path led me back to Chicago to start a family and to return to school to pursue a degree in education. But shortly after returning to Chicago, my father suffered a heart attack that led doctors to discover he also had cancer. Instantly, I began helping my mother with caregiving duties and my career change to education was officially on hold.
Shortly after my father died in 1998, I learned my mother had lung cancer that metastasized into a brain tumor. I also cared for her mother while also taking on the challenge of school.
Ultimately, my mother's illness advanced and she required hospice. Her care began at one Chicago-area hospice, but the organization did not offer the experience or education I expected. My family then moved her to another hospice, where we ultimately received the guidance we needed to understand her illness and provide optimum support.
Mom's care ignited a spark inside me, and I quickly abandoned my future in education, instead turning to nursing – specifically hospice nursing.
If you talk to any of my friends, they would have never imagined I would be a nurse. Business was always my focus and then education, because I like teaching. But after my experience, I wanted to advocate for my mom, for the families of the dying and for the people who are grieving after their loved one is gone. Could my experience with my mom have been different? I wouldn't know that unless I went out and pursued nursing. That was my therapy.
During school I worked as a patient care technician in an ER at a suburban hospital and then as a staff RN in oncology after obtaining my nursing license. By 2010, I was serving as a case manager and resource admissions nurse for another local hospice. But my heart was always at the bedside.
I joined Midwest Care Center in early 2012 as a staff nurse, ultimately becoming part of the team at the Northwest Community Hospital Hospice Suite when it opened in Arlington Heights. Today, I am the clinical supervisor for the eight-bed patient suite. I feel like all roads were leading me here to Midwest Care Center and I think that's because their values are in line with mine. We do what's expected to deliver excellent hospice care – and then we go above and beyond. For everyone here, this is their calling and patients and families know we are sincere.
Next up, I'm due to complete an additional degree in nursing from Olivet Nazarine University this August. And early this year, I became a certified educator through the Hospice & Palliative Care Nurses Association. Now my goal is to encourage other nurses to seek their advance hospice certification.
That's because continuing your education shows a commitment to personal and professional growth, both of which benefit the patients receiving hospice and palliative care. And at Midwest Care Center, we are committed as a whole organization. We swoop in from all angles and take care of each family.