As an immigrant of the United States, I have always had the desire to make a positive and lasting impact in this beautiful country. I immigrated to the United States in 1984 from El Salvador. Although I have had the aspiration to be a member of the healthcare field from a very early age, my resources to fulfill my dreams were very limited in El Salvador. My career as a nurse began in 2005 when I graduated from Wallace Community College with my Associate of Nursing degree. In 2020, I was able to further my education at the University of Alabama by completing my Bachelor of Nursing degree. My American dream includes helping to improve the lives of those in need.
During my time as a nurse, I have had the privilege of working in many different areas of healthcare including wound care, med surge, LTACH, public health, and case management. I began working in case management in 2019. While each area of nursing has taught me many important lessons, case management stands out to me the most due to the fact I am able to advocate for my patient while developing a treatment plan that is designed to further their progress past the discharge stage. It is my duty to protect each and every patient’s health both inside and outside of the hospital. Additionally, I enjoy that I am able to work in an interdisciplinary team alongside medical doctors, social workers, psychiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other fellow nurses. I enjoy communicating with my team members to ensure that every patient has a safe and successful discharge from the hospital. As a team, we must pay attention to even the smallest of details. In return, this prevents multiple hospitalizations from occurring.
Every day, I feel rewarded knowing that my team goes above and beyond the patient’s basic resources in order to ensure that we are able to offer a successful discharge plan for the patient at hand. I begin my days by reviewing which specific patients have been in the hospital for long periods of time. If these patients do not have a discharge plan already created, I work alongside my team to create a successful plan for them. I am able to do so by reaching out to doctors, the patient’s family, or other colleagues for any additional resources. My position as a case management nurse can be as straightforward as creating a discharge plan for a patient that is ready to begin rehabilitation services or as challenging as having a heart-felt conversation with a patient and their family regarding a recommendation to begin end-of-life services such as hospice care.
Case management nursing is distinctive in the sense that I have the opportunity to develop long-term relationships with my patients. With every discharge plan that I develop, I always take into account the specific wishes that each patient holds. I am also able to provide guidance to my patients while developing a discharge plan for them. It is very important to me that my patients are satisfied with their plan of care. My heart is set on ensuring that each patient feels safe and taken care of. If there is not an adequate discharge plan that is set in place prior to discharge occurring, there will not be a successful outcome. I am committed to ensure that my patients have the best outcome possible so they are able to stay in the comfort of their own homes and do not have to return back to the hospital. Many patients return back to working in our community upon discharge. My goal is to create a discharge plan that allows patients to return back to being as independent as possible.
In many instances, I work with patients that do not particularly have the financial means to receive the services that they are in need of. I work diligently to enroll them in any clinics in my community that offer services to them for free or at a discounted rate. Many times, I have researched online for national or federal support-groups. In addition, I am able to establish services for them at dialysis clinics if they are in need of these services. During my time as a case management nurse, I have also experienced being able to provide my patients with international resources that allow them to return to their native country if their wish is to do so.
Being a case management nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have witnessed my patients experiencing a new set of challenges that I have not experienced prior in my nursing career. However, I am a firm believer that with challenges comes new opportunities. Personally, I have been able to provide many connections between families that have not been able to visit with each other face-to-face for a long duration of time. Many of these families are still unsure when they will be able to safely visit with each other again. I have found that by simply bringing an iPad to the patient’s room to allow them to FaceTime with their loved ones has put a smile on each of their faces. I truly believe that there is no better feeling than being a part of special moments such as these.
Aside from being a case management nurse, I hold the role of being a mother, daughter, sister, and friend in my personal life. Every role that I hold is meaningful to me but I will always be thankful that the United States has granted me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of being a case management nurse. In present-day, I now hold the goal of taking my knowledge regarding case management one step further by becoming a certified case management nurse. I am currently studying to foresee this dream come true. I plan to take my certification exam in the next few weeks. Having the privilege of working in a field that is so impactful has enriched my life in more ways than I can truly describe.
Guest post from Gladis Deleon, BSN, submitted as part of our “Why I Love Case Management” and selected as one of our Honorary Mention Winners!
My name is Gladis Deleon. I live in Dothan, Alabama. I am an immigrant of the United States from El Salvador. I have been working in healthcare for sixteen years.