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National Hospice Month | Sutter Care at Home

In recognition of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, Sunset Lawn Chapel of the Chimes Funeral Home wishes to acknowledge Kimberly Smith, Hospice Nurse at Sutter Care at Home for her accomplishments.

Interview with Kimberly Smith

Kimberly has worked as a Hospice Registered Nurse for over 9 years. She was intrigued to work in the field of hospice for a few reasons. She was first introduced to hospice when her high school friend, Mary’s Mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hospice came in to take care of Sarah during her last days. It was Kimberly's first time seeing someone that she knew pass away. She was filled with so many emotions during that time. "I was very impressed with the hospice nurse and staff. Several years later, I was working as a Project Manager at Fannie Mae in Washington, DC. I enjoyed working at Fannie Mae, but felt a desire to make more of a difference in people’s lives. I had a friend who had a son that was born prematurely. He was born with Cerebral Palsy and had hydrocephalus. He was in the NICU for several months. Shortly after that, I pursued a degree in Nursing," explained Kimberly.

What are some of the powerful emotions you have gone through?

It’s hard to put into words. I have always felt like I get just as much emotional and spiritual satisfaction from visiting patients and their families as hopefully, they get from my visits. After 9 years of hospice nursing, I have seen death and dying first hand. I have pronounced so many of my patients. I have had the gift of being present during the death of a dozen or so of my patients. Being present during the passing of a patient and their family is a very sacred and personal experience. I feel blessed to have been a part of helping patients pass comfortably.

What are some things you do to take care of yourself emotionally so that you can continue to help others in your profession?

Over the years, I have learned to talk with my co-workers and discuss difficult patient passing’s or reminisce about the patient and their family. You kind of put your emotions aside because there are other patients waiting for you.

What has been the biggest challenge for you and why?

The biggest challenge for me as a hospice nurse has been emotionally. I have found that my emotional challenges have been simultaneously draining and enriching all at the same time. It involves continuous reflection and balancing between meeting the dying as a human being and meeting the dying as a hospice professional.

What do you believe has been your key to having great relationships with your patients?

For me, it’s the ability to connect. I always try to connect with my patients and their families on an emotional, physical, and spiritual level. Hospice nursing is about having lots of compassion. I try to meet patients and their families where they are. This includes setting aside my thoughts and values. It is also the gift of presence. Our daily lives are filled with so much technology, media, and information. The true, genuine gifts of being with a patient, may be as simple as quiet reflection, listening, smiling, or a hug.

How do you motivate yourself?

I love making a difference in my patient’s lives. It’s the simple thank you from a family member at the end of a busy day. This makes it all worthwhile. I love being a hospice nurse!  It is my passion!

Looking back on the first person in your care, how would you say you have evolved from that moment and in which ways?

I have evolved in several ways since my first patient. I have learned to set boundaries with patients and families. It's my patients and their families who teach me to be a nurse. I have grown emotionally and spiritually working with the dying. I know that I can't do it all alone. I rely heavily on my team members and my creator.

What advice would you give someone who is considering hospice service in the near or far future?

I would ask them how they feel about death and dying. I would also ask them if they could see themselves working primarily with geriatrics. I would let them know that I am so proud to be a hospice nurse and making a difference in people's lives each and every day!


For more information about Sutter Care at Home, visit:

Website: http://www.suttercareathome.org/hospice/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SutterCareAH/

Address: 3001 Lava Ridge Court, Suite 330A, Roseville, CA 95661
Phone: (916) 797-7979