By Joanne Guzman
Online Marketing Specialist
As we celebrate Caroline’s 7 years with Hospice of Santa Cruz County, I sat down with her to ask a few questions about her experience with hospice care and nursing.
What brought you into nursing?
I was studying studio art and ended up in the hospital. Like many people, I received a range of quality of care. It made such a difference when I received good care- it helped me to heal faster! I remember one night when a nurse came in to take my vital signs. The room was dark and quiet. I can still remember what her hands looked like and how she cared for me. I had a realization that I wanted to be her!
How did you land at HSCC?
There are many challenges in healthcare related to the patient experience. I wanted to find a nursing job that felt like right livelihood. As a massage therapist, I am trained in an approach to care called the Client Centered Philosophy. This philosophy holds that the client, not the clinician, is the healer and that the clinician is a facilitator of that healing process. This dovetails perfectly with the patient and family centered philosophy at hospice.
When I walked into our hospice and ran into two familiar faces - Radha, who I knew from Mount Madonna Center, and Judy, who I knew from Twin Lakes College of the Healing Arts, I knew it was the right place to be.
Now that I work in Clinical Education, people often ask if I miss the patient contact. My reply is that I love working with the staff here at hospice. Working with people who are so good at what they do and care so much about excellence elevates us all. I’ve learned so much from the people I work with- how to do my job and how to be a good human being.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction in your work?
We have a huge impact on people, because we meet them in a crucial time in their lives. When working out in the field, my role was to normalize the dying experience and help people to be present with what was happening- the beauty and the pain. In my current role, I enjoy the problem solving and facilitating growth. Sometimes I get to support new staff as transition from a feelings of overwhelm to a place of “I’ve got it!” I like to collaborate. That’s what is so great about the hospice model- we are actually mandated to work as a team!
What is unique about your job?
I see myself as a bridge between field clinicians and leadership. I’ve been in the field and can understand the challenges there. Working with leadership, I get insight into why we have to do some of the things we are being asked to do. I feel I have a responsibility to support understanding and collaboration. Yes, we have regulations we have to follow, and we have people we need to care for...let's problem solve.
What does hospice care mean to you?
For me, it is about recognizing that dying is part of a continuum. We walk side by side with people as they transition. We help people get through it. Ram Dass does a teaching about people and their roles in life. He describes how, when someone is dying, the roles fall away and we just become beings sharing an experience together. This inspires my hospice work.
Normalizing the duality of feelings people may experience, such as “I don’t want Mom to die” and “I wish it was over” is important. Validating what they feel and their unconscious competence as caregivers is a gift. It is an honor to serve in this way.
A good death is possible. Thank you for letting me serve.