by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager
Front row (l-r): Kathy Journigan-Douglas, Myra Clark, Donna Shronce
Back row (l to r): Cyndi Jo Brady, Earlynne Bartley, Kelli Honeycutt, Susan Sain
One of the tenets of marketing is the belief that “you are not your own audience”. It’s a concept that encourages us to keep our minds open, to remember that we can’t make decisions based solely on what we like or on the experiences we’ve had. Because there is a whole world of diverse people out there. And they have varying opinions that have been shaped by unique life circumstances. No two people are exactly alike, right?
Absolutely true. But sometimes we are our own audience. And that’s when learning happens.
Case in point: Myra Clark. Myra is a registered nurse with Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County (HPCLC). She has cared for countless patients at end of life, offering a blend of nursing expertise and quiet compassion. She has helped her patients die with dignity, keeping them comfortable and calm until the end.
Myra assumed that her role of hospice RN would prepare her for when her parents needed end of life care. But when her mother, Betty, started declining from a terminal illness, she knew that she could not wear two hats. She could not be her mother’s nurse and her daughter. In other words, she became her own audience.
That’s when Myra turned to her fellow Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County staff members. The phenomenal team of Cindy Jo Brady (RN), Susan Sain (RN), Kelli Honeycutt (NP), and Donna Shronce (NA), jumped into action to care for Betty. Initially Betty was uncomfortable with anyone but her daughter looking after her, but she received such quality care from the HPCLC team that she soon began looking forward to their visits. They eased Betty’s pain and reassured her when she had worries. And they supported Myra too; they let her devote herself 100 percent to the role of daughter.
So Myra found herself on the receiving end of the care that she usually provides. And in that way, she gained a unique and valuable perspective.
Myra knows that what she does for a living is a gift to others. She can see it on the faces of her patients, hear it in the voices of the families and loved ones. And she’s always considered it a privilege to serve her community. But this time it was personal — it was her own mother who was dying and it was unlike any of her previous experiences.
As her team members lovingly care for her mom, their actions and words gained new significance. She watched them and heard them with the eyes and ears of a daughter, rather than a nurse. From the other side of the stethoscope, she could appreciate the incredible comfort the care team offers to patients and their families.
After Betty passed away, Myra and her family continued to benefit from hospice care. Chaplain Earlynne Bartley and Grief Counselor Kathy Douglas, also team members of Myra’s, offered grief support and helped them cope with the loss. They helped Myra begin the long healing process.
You would never think that watching your own mother die would make you a better nurse. But that’s exactly what happened to Myra Clark. She had a deeply personal experience within her own profession. She experienced the range of emotions felt by family members losing a loved one. She gained knowledge; a profound understanding of grief, fear, and loss. And through her co-workers, Myra experienced the grace and love of hospice in a completely new way. She experienced something that she herself offers on a daily basis but had never had the opportunity to fully appreciate. Because she’d never been the audience before.
But now she has. And she’s a better nurse because of it.