All of the choices we make have a huge impact on the lives of others. In the world of healthcare, having excellent clinicians in both hospitals and home healthcare settings make a huge difference in patient care and outcomes. But, why do some nurses choose to switch from hospital to home care? We sat down with members of the MGA Homecare team who started their career in a hospital environment and made the switch to pediatric home care. Read what they had to say about the differences between the two.
Maria Zenk, RN has worked in the healthcare industry for over 18 years. She graduated from the University of North Dakota with her BSN and spent five years working in hospitals before making the switch to working with patients in their homes. Maria now works as a Clinical Case Manager – PDN in our Scottsdale office.
Alina Aunan, RN has been working in healthcare for a little over four years. She received her BSN from Washington State University and worked in the hospital setting for about 4 months before transitioning to home care. Maria now works as a Clinical Supervisor – Visits in our Colorado Springs office.
Brittany Stai, RN is in her third year working in healthcare. She attended the University of Colorado, CO Springs and received her BSN. She spent about a year and a half working in hospitals before switching over to home healthcare. Maria now works as a Clinical Case Manager – PDN in our Colorado Springs office.
Laura Cole, RN has spent the last 14 years working in the healthcare industry and is currently working towards her BSN at Western Governors University. She spent less than a year working in hospitals before making the switch over to home care. Maria now works as a Clinical Case Manager – PDN in our Colorado Springs office.
What inspired your transition from hospital to pediatric home care?
Maria: “I knew a friend who had made the transition and had only positive things to say about homecare and MGA as a company. Knowing that, I thought I would give it a try. Hospital hours and shifts get exhausting after a while, so I was ready for something a little different.”
Alina: “The schedule didn’t lend itself to a good work-life balance. I missed having a sense of community and being with family and friends. The hours in the hospital aren’t ideal and I wasn’t always comfortable with the ratio of nurses to patients at times.”
Brittany: “I found myself building a connection with my patients only to have them be discharged, not seeing them until they were sick again. It’s difficult becoming worried about the well-being of people but not knowing their condition. I knew that with home care, I’d be able to build a relationship with the families I worked with and I could see my patient actually progress.”
Laura: “The flexibility became really important. I was getting married and became pregnant all while working in the hospital. I knew that if I went into home care I’d have those flexible hours everyone always talks about. I was also motivated to transition because I wanted to form relationships with my patients.”
What’s the biggest difference between the hospital and the home setting?
Maria: “You have to change the way you think about things when you’re in a home environment. When you’re in the home, you need to make it feel like a home. It’s really important to remember that you’re not in charge there when it comes to the household lifestyle and rules. It’s less rigid compared to a hospital, but some nurses have a hard time accepting that change.”
Alina: “Maintaining and encouraging professional boundaries while in the home is a major difference. You’re also always trying to be a respectful house guest which is a different dynamic.”
Brittany: “The way nurses handle education the hospital is the starkest difference. In the hospital, it’s more task-oriented and nurses are juggling are variety of tasks on a time crunch. In home care, we want to see this kiddo have a developmentally appropriate lifestyle with his or her family. Meaning the nurse spends a lot of time teaching the mom or dad how to best care for their child. In the home, educating the patient or family is more in-depth and specific to their home life needs.”
Laura: “For me, the biggest difference is that in the hospital, it’s our goal to stabilize the kiddo in order to send him or her home. In the home healthcare setting, our goal is to provide a better quality of life and to keep that child at home.”
Would you ever make the switch back to the hospital?
Maria: “I don’t think I would. I’ve thought about it at times, but the burnout and stress are too much to go through. I’m at the point in my life where I just want peace in my work environment.”
Alina: “Honestly, I wouldn’t mind transitioning back to the hospital at some point, but it comes down to the schedule and if I’d be willing to give up flexible shifts. The beauty of home health is that you have that flexibility to adjust and make your own schedule. I feel independent and autonomous compared to being in the hospital where you don’t have the same luxury.”
Brittany: “Likely not. The only real benefit I loved about the hospital was learning new skills and I sometimes miss those. But, we have the opportunity to go out for visits and keep up on those skills in home care. I also wouldn’t want to lose the team I have here. In the hospital, it feels like you’re on an island and that’s not an experience I’d like to have again.”
Laura: “I wouldn’t really consider it until I had more flexibility in my life. I don’t think I could work in a hospital environment while my husband is active in the military or while my son is young. It’s too important to be at home with my family on a consistent basis.”
What would you tell someone who’s on the fence about making the switch from hospital to pediatric home care?
Maria: “Look at the reasons why you would want to make that change and that will help guide you. Once you identify what’s making you feel that way, that will push you if it’s the right choice. You should have a realistic expectation of what home care is when going into it. Do your research and find a good company to work with.”
Alina: “Working as a home health nurse for one specific family really allows you to develop your nursing skills, specific to that patient of course. You get to know your patient and their baseline which helps you refine your assessment skills. It’s rewarding to work with one patient at a time and have the chance to solely focus on him or her.”
Brittany: “The biggest thing is understanding that in home care, you’re not on an island and you’ll be supported by others on your team. MGA is especially good about providing constant support. Everyone here always encourages collaboration and makes sure that you are taken care of, which in turn keeps our patients safe.”
Laura: “Don’t worry about being able to stay busy. A lot of people assume that home health is slow, but we have a broad range of kiddos with a variety of diagnoses so there are all levels of work. You can definitely stay busy if you want to.”
Thank you to Maria, Alina, Brittany and Laura for sharing your stories with us and for everything you do to care for MGA patients. It’s clear just how passionate you all are about your work and how it helps the families you interact with every day.
If you’re currently working in the healthcare field and are interested in making the switch from a hospital to in-home care consider contacting MGA Homecare today! Our Arizona, Colorado and Texas offices are always looking for compassionate and experienced nurses.