Caregiver: Calling or Career?

I have spent most of my adult life working in healthcare, specifically elder care. Over the years I met some fascinating people. Countless numbers of patients and residents who experienced amazing things. Some survived horrendous ordeals. I will never forget the concentration camp survivor I met and the stories she shared. I feel fortunate that I am able to connect with such incredible people. Working in senior care is a gift. And it is also hard work.

My career has shifted into healthcare recruiting and I find myself in a unique place. Previously, I worked to help patients and families transition into the nursing home, now I hire the people caring for them. It is a tremendous responsibility to source, screen and hire employees who will provide direct care to seniors. Many residents have complex medical conditions or significant memory issues. They are in a compromised state and it is my goal to hire staff with integrity and compassion.

During interviews I ask a series of questions that reveals how the applicant will respond in various situations. Their responses allow me to glean the presence of empathy and compassion. I ask them about their work history. We talk about their strengths. And I always ask them what led them to this type of work.

Almost every applicant has a story. There is a common denominator of why they became a nurse, or a nursing assistant, or a therapist. They were caregivers to family members, friends, or even pets, prior to evolving into their respective roles. I have heard just as many incredible stories from applicants as I have residents. The journey to their profession is filled with joy and fulfillment, loss and heartache. Some applicants have shed tears during the interview as they recount stories of people they’ve cared for. Others have shared undeniable moments of affirmation they’ve received while caring for their patients.

So I ask you this. Is being a caregiver a career, or is a true calling?

We all know the answer lies in the individual. But the best nursing assistants, nurses and therapists I’ve hired, view their profession as a calling. For them, it is not all about the money, or benefits. It is about caring for another human being. Doing for them, what they cannot do for themselves. Giving them love and receiving true satisfaction that comes from doing one’s life work.
senior photo

(Photo credit, Pixabay)


Why Do They Call It Work?

Just like all who wander are not lost, not all who are employed, work. No, I am not referring to your lazy co-worker who manages to do as little as possible. I am referring to those visionaries out there who have figured out a way to do what they love, and get paid for it.

Stop rolling your eyes. I am serious. 

There is a way to do what you love and pay the bills. There is a way to find joy in your vocation. There is a way to turn your calling into a career. Most of us spend more time at “work” than we do at “home” and most of us are miserable.

Why is that?

Most of us adults are brain-washed into believing we have to settle. It’s true. But things don’t begin this way. At first, we pick what interests us. Remember that obsession you had with playing the clarinet? You knew you were destined for Julliard and it turns out, it was simply a passing fancy, as was playing the saxophone and cello. Then there was soccer, or maybe baseball. And then you pepper in an art class here and there. Looking back, you tried it all and it shaped who you are.

Then for most, it’s off to college where there is some room for exploration, but soon you are faced with a multiple choice list of majors. You pick what you think you will enjoy. You select what speaks to you. And then…you hope for the best.

Within 4-6 years, you are certified as an expert in your chosen field, given the paper to prove it. And this is when it all starts. You look for jobs. Sometimes, you find the perfect career.

Sometimes you don’t. And there you are with bills to pay and mouths to feed. You are trapped on the hamster wheel. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can find the perfect career. You can do what moves you.

You can be one of “those people” who never work a day in their life, because they truly love what they do.

The only difference between you and them, is that they don’t settle.

Why should you?

steve jobs

(Photo credit, Pinterest)