With an aging populace and the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers, cities all across the country are looking to see what the future will bring in terms of demands on our medical and nursing care facilities. Meighan Gaubatz, assistant director of nursing at Grace Care Center of Northpointe, talks about her role as a nurse at one of the high-quality elder care facilities for which the city of Houston has become best known.
What does your current position entail?
“My role as the assistant director entails implementation of ideas, processes and functions as agreed upon at the upper management level. In layman’s terms, my director, our unit managers, compliance nurse and administrators collaborate to develop the day-to-day processes that keep our facility running. My role is to be the face of these decisions and to ensure, monitor and track implementation of all of the expectations of our staff, and report back to our management team as I work directly with our care team and other departments. I am on call for staffing and care emergencies due to my close proximity to our facility.
“I spend my day doing everything from feeding, conversing with and holding our residents’ hands to working alongside nurse aides and nurses on the floor performing patient care. My role is unique in that I’m the most expected of our team to remain “one leg in, one leg out” of the administrative function of management while continuing to work directly in the patient care process. Everything from handling family complaints to stepping in as the acting director of our department when my boss is unavailable occurs regularly.”
Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?
“I feel that my education has definitely given me the understanding of the complicated biological processes of human body systems. It has also helped build the foundation of the bridge-building required of the nursing pathos to parlay medical knowledge into a practical understanding of what’s going on when we’re presented with various patient conditions, disease processes and medical issues.”
Have you participated in any form of continuing education since beginning this position?
“The Texas Board of Nursing requires continuing education as part of maintaining a nursing license in good standing. In addition, I regularly attend inservices as provided by pharmaceutical companies, hospice agencies and a widely varying collection of health care disciplines. I’m also currently pursuing the completion of my undergraduate degree with the hope of parlaying my nursing experience and education into the role of an advanced practitioner of medicine.”
Do you have any advice for people who are interested in pursuing a career in health?
“When I first went to nursing school, I was given the beautiful gift of understanding the value of humility in nursing. Nursing is unique in that it is truly a vocation — not necessarily a career that anyone can pick up and move into. When I hire nurses, I tell them that my focus isn’t where they went to school or what their educational background is beyond the requirements of the state board of nursing. I want to see humility.
“The moment that we refuse to work one on one with our patients and be the one who feeds, loves, cleans and cares for our patients is the moment we are no longer nurses. Between these character qualities and the constant understanding that every member of your team from housekeeping to administration has valuable wisdom to impart, you don’t necessarily need to ‘know’ anything. Practical skills, leadership techniques and the ins and outs of state and federal regulatory protocol can all be taught along the way. But the attitude for those skills to fully develop has to be there or you simply will not succeed in a position such as mine.”
Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.