Rose Oakley, RN, was drawn to the field of nursing ever since she can remember.
“I was one of those little girls that always answered ‘nurse’ when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she recalls.
The rise of the hospice movement, coupled with her mother’s 10-year battle with leukemia and the amazing care her mom received from nurses at University of Minnesota, strengthened her desire to someday be a nurse.
After years of working in hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units, Rose says she remembered her vision of what she wanted to be and found her way back to it—via infusion nursing.
“I felt like I finally came home,” she says.
Fairview’s Home Infusion program is dedicated to helping people of all ages manage their illness while continuing to live their lives. An essential component to making that a reality is home infusion therapists like Rose.
The services they provide are both comprehensive and personalized, which means their visits can range from administering routine antibiotics to managing more complex cases.
For fellow home infusion therapist, Ann Christian, RN/CHPN, that means flexibility is one of the keys to doing a great job.
“So many variables can change a day,” says Ann. “You can go from seeing a 40-year-old patient dealing with end stage cancer to a 2-year-old who just received a bone marrow transplant to a 37-year-old dealing with chronic cystic fibrosis. Some days there might be time to pause and breathe and take a lunch and others you just keep moving forward.”
In addition to the wide range of patients they see, Rose says other factors—like travel—can also keep them on their toes. Sometimes traveling upward of 100 miles a day, Rose says they experience everything from icy roads to traffic nightmares, but they still have a job to do and a patient to help.
That patient-centered focus lies at the heart of everything they do. While most patient-provider interactions happen in a hospital or clinic setting, these connections take place in the patient’s home.
While that may be a comfortable setting for the patient, it also means they are dealing with a stranger entering one of their most sacred spaces.
“My job starts with respecting their home, culture, values, personal stories and their family—including their sometimes diverse array of pets,” says Rose. “From there, I can assess their needs and provide support and education to get them to their goal of receiving their infusion at home.”
Rose says they are often able to take their patients from a place of anxiety and fear to relief and confidence in the course of one or two visits. That outcome requires the ability to listen to how their patients and families are coping and teaching, reteaching and assessing for vulnerabilities.
“Home care nursing is laden with so many experiences, but the moments I am most proud of are those when I am able to shut off all the noise and listen to the stories of those I am there to care for. Seeing people in their own homes, with those they love and are loved by, surrounded by their history in furniture, pictures, family and pets, allows us to connect on a very human level.”
Ann says a quote from Maya Angelou—“I have learned that people will forget what you have said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”—sums up her job the best.
“There are times when I go to see patients and it doesn’t feel like I am working at all,” says Ann. “It feels like I’m visiting a lifetime friend.”
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