Last November, Ann Foster, RN, took another turn on her decades-long nursing journey to join Lehigh Valley Home Care–Pocono, part of Lehigh Valley Health Network. “I’m 64 years old. And in my final five years of nursing, I really wanted to have more direct patient contact. I found home health to be a wonderful transition. It gave me the opportunity to care for patients and their families one-on-one outside the structure of a busy hospital,” she says.
Joys of a Home Care Nursing Career: The Rewards Are Many
Ann Foster, RN, reflects on what she loves about her nursing career with Lehigh Valley Home Care–Pocono
A lifelong caregiver
Foster grew up in Easton. In her early 30s, while raising five children, ranging in age from 2 to 10, she enrolled at Northampton Community College to get her nursing degree. “Having a large family, I was used to being a caregiver. Nursing was an extension of who I was, and I liked the intellectual aspect of it,” she says.
In 2003, she moved to Monroe County and accepted a position at Pocono Medical Center. While working on the med-surg unit, and caring for patients undergoing cancer treatments, she got her oncology certification (OCN) and eventually transferred to the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono. She loved the deep patient experiences and the intellectual challenges, providing hope and education to patients and their families.
The best of both worlds
Over the years, Foster has always been hands-on and very involved in every aspect of her patients’ care. Home care nursing gives her those same rewards. She uses her wealth of experience to offer personalized care to patients in the comfort of their own homes. She loves the autonomy and independence she has to make decisions, while still being a part of a larger medical team of physicians, physical therapists and nurse practitioners.
“I can pull in every single thing I have learned over the years – whether it’s management, administration, the med-surg experience or oncology – all of those skills I have developed allow me to meet my patients’ needs,” she says. “Home care is not a piece of cake, but it is a very rewarding career. You see the impact that you make on people in their home setting. I love oncology with a passion and I love home health too. We have a great home care team here at Pocono.”
Creating her own schedule
For Foster, another key attraction of home care nursing is the ability to make her own schedule. She arranges appointments based on the preferences of the patient and what works for her.
“Because you are a guest in their home and you see how they live their everyday life, you can base your nursing goals and interventions on the reality of how they live,” she says. “Most patients are not an island, so you are treating the entire sphere of who is in that home to prevent re-hospitalization.”
Visiting patients throughout the Pocono region, she typically spends about one hour at each home. Patients may have heart failure, arthritis or cancer. When treating these patients, she makes sure to come prepared and remain mentally flexible to meet their very specific needs.
“In home care nursing, you must think on your feet because every home you walk into is different,” she says. “When you pull up to that house you never know what you are going to run into, but it’s very interesting and rewarding.”
Community health is important for good health
Foster really enjoys staying active and spending her free time outside. As a master gardener and a fly fisher, she appreciates the flexibility of her new role, which allows her to adjust her days around her other interests. She also serves on the boards of several conservation organizations.
“I think as a nurse, caring and advocacy are a part of who we are and they carry over into my personal life as well,” she says. “We advocate for patients and we advocate for other things that affect the health of our community.”