The Nurse Life series of blog posts examines real world experiences of both current and prospective nurses as they share their stories of what drew them to their career and what has made it meaningful.
Emily Sizemore, senior career services advisor for Chamberlain’s Chicago campus, recently spoke with Chamberlain Instructor Mary Beth Sakis about her career experiences.
For Mary Beth Sakis, MSN Ed, RN, her work in case management home healthcare wasn’t her immediate or even long-term career goal. But throughout her 26 years as a nurse, her various experiences eventually led her to the role, one which she found resonated with her values and background.
“I began my nursing career at the bedside on a medical, surgical, pulmonary and renal unit,” said Sakis. “I then moved to cardiothoracic and vascular surgery.”
Sakis’ long journey to case management home healthcare began as most career journeys do, with her putting her skills to the test and trying new things.
“After that, I was a nurse associate for a group of heart surgeons, and that’s where I began to learn the case management role. But even then, I went on to work with a group of interventional radiologists. It was there that I fully added research management, along with case management, to my responsibilities.”
As her career path twisted and turned, Sakis’ personal life underwent changes as well. She had a growing family and felt fortunate she was in a flexible position and was able to cut back her hours and spend more time at home.
“Once I was back to working more consistent hours, I worked in an ambulatory care center, supervised a rehabilitation center, and then moved into the home healthcare arena.”
It was this move which led to Sakis’ most fulfilling career experience.
Making a difference
In the mid-1990s, Sakis took care of a man who suffered from pain due to a terminal illness. One of his fears was dying and leaving his wife with unmanageable medical bills. The patient was referred to the physician Sakis worked with, who recommended that he undergo a procedure to reduce the pain caused by his illness.
“As I attempted to pre-certify this procedure with his insurance company, I was told that it was considered ‘investigational’ and therefore it was not covered by his policy.”
Sakis said that after an extensive review of the medical literature and a presentation to the medical director of the insurance company, she was able to successfully complete a petition process which resulted in the medical director not only approving the procedure, but also changing the insurance company’s algorithm to accept the procedure moving forward.
“My patient underwent a total of three procedures, his pain level was well controlled, and he was able to die knowing that his wife would not be burdened with six-figure medical bills that she couldn’t pay.”
Words of wisdom
Like all the different career paths in nursing, Sakis valued her time in case management home healthcare and the rewards of facing a challenge, albeit often alone and with limited resources.
“The best parts of home healthcare are the autonomy, being appreciated by your patients and their families, and trusting yourself as a practitioner. Home healthcare nurses must be especially competent with their skills, as we are alone in the field for the majority of our time.”
Now an educator at Chamberlain’s Columbus, Ohio, campus and teaching the next generation of nurses, Sakis offers four pieces of advice:
- First, align yourself with an organization that provides a thorough orientation
- Second, understand your own moral compass. There will be times when you must stand up for what is right, despite outside pressures.
- Third, work in a collaborative manner. All specialties need each other to provide optimal care for our patients
- Lastly, and most of all, keep a good sense of humor and take time to nurture yourself!
What’s your story? Do you have your own Nurse Life nursing experiences to share? We’d love to hear it! Email yours to firstname.lastname@example.org.