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)