It’s National Careers In Aging Week and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that this week exists. Not only is it instrumental in helping providers reel in the people they need to care for the growing aging population, but it gives all of us the opportunity to brag about our jobs and inspire others to start their careers in this rewarding industry. So, what better way to exercise my own bragging rights than to tell you the top things that I love about working in the aging industry? I have to admit, it was a bit of challenge to narrow this list down, but here are my top four.
1. The opportunity for career growth is limitless
I entered the healthcare industry as a nursing assistant through a vocational program in high school and soon went on to get my nursing license. I eventually moved into an operational role, where I learned about the business side of the industry. Even though I moved into operations, I always supported our front-line workers. I had been in their shoes and I was able to leverage my experiences to connect with my staff. I recently made the transition from the operator side to the vendor side last year when I joined OnShift. My focus is to help to build a sustainable senior care workforce with the use of technology. It's been an amazing journey and I can't wait to see what's next.
I think organizations today need to better communicate to today’s workers that there are career paths in senior care – I’m happy to be your proof! Talk about offering these paths in your job postings, showcase employees that have moved up the ranks on your website and social media channels. Go all out and get these inspiring stories out there.
2. It’s rewarding beyond belief
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I couldn’t bear to leave it out. You get to make a difference each and every day when you choose a career in senior housing. It truly is one of the most rewarding professions out there and you have the opportunity to profoundly impact so many people's lives. Just talking about it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Even as I moved from nursing into operations roles, I found that I was able to give back in a whole new way by supporting and connecting with those on the front lines. Having been in their shoes, they trusted me to be as a team member and advocate on their behalf. It was so rewarding to coach and inspire them, watch them provide exceptional care to the residents and witness their own personal and professional growth.
3. I've met the most incredible people
As I look back over my 25 plus years in this industry, some of the most trusted advisers, mentors and friendships came from my senior housing “family.” After graduating from nursing school, I started a job as a graduate practical nurse in an intermediate care facility. I had my daughter the following year and brought the baby to visit my residents three days later. The residents met her before some of my closest friends! Many would share some of the best parenting advice that I would receive.
My colleagues were also amazing. One team I was on oversaw multiple communities and led the charge in modeling and instilling our organization's core values. We grew so close and were so in sync, we could almost finish each other’s sentences. We were like family and truly wanted the best for each other. We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, and, conversely, grieved with and supported one another during tough times.
Companies will ask their employees, “do you have a friend at work?” I always answered that question with a confident “yes.” Many dubbed us “the dream team,” and even though we have gone our separate ways, we still remain friends.
4. The learning never stops
If you love to learn, then a career in the fast-paced, ever-evolving senior care industry is for you. You’ll gain real-life experience that can be applied to just about anything you do. What I have learned in the day-to-day of it all – compassion, strategy, problem-solving – rivals any formal education that I received. Don’t get me wrong, degrees and certifications are a crucial part of working in senior care, and I would encourage anyone to get the degrees they desire. However, don’t be surprised when you continue to learn in a whole new way once you step into a community.
Think about it; the residents you serve offer a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. I learned so much just sitting with them, hearing about their experiences and listening to their incredible stories. I can’t imagine another line of work offering that.
During a recent webinar with McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, Apricity Resources Chief People Officer Kim Warnecke said, “Nobody’s going to tell our story like we can ourselves…and we can do that through pictures and words on the internet.” I invite all of you to tell your organization’s or community’s story this week and all weeks – after all, we have such a great one to tell.