Holly Hughes ‘13 on Home Care Nursing

April 05, 2016

Holly Hughes

We asked Holly about VNA of Boston’s residency program and what a typical day is like as a home care nurse!

In 2012, the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston (VNAB) partnered with Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences on a grant from the Department of Higher Education to develop a nurse residency program in home care for newly graduated nurses. The residency’s first cohort included five graduates of Simmons Nursing Dix Scholar program.

Holly Hughes ‘13, a graduate of the Dix Scholars accelerated BSN program, completed the residency program and now works as an RN at VNAB. We asked Holly a few questions about Simmons the VNAB!

What made you want to become a nurse?

Prior to becoming a nurse, I worked in non-profit development. I loved knowing my work was having a positive impact on the community, but found that the traditional 9 to 5 office job became a little tedious and I decided to seek out a job that was more hands-on. I'd been considering a career in nursing for several years and decided to take the plunge and started working through the pre-requisites. I had to push myself outside of my comfort zone along the way, but I really do feel as though I've found my calling.

What drew you to Simmons?

I consistently read and heard outstanding things about the professors and clinical experiences at Simmons. Simmons graduates have a reputation for being very well-prepared nurses with strong clinical skills.

What was your favorite class you took at Simmons? Why?

I loved Leadership & Management in my final semester, especially the opportunity to hear from a panel of recent Simmons grads about their experiences applying for jobs and entering the nursing work force. I also loved Health Assessment with Professor Berube in my first semester. It really opened my eyes to the scope of nursing practice and prepared me for the many different types of patients that I would be working with.

What attracted you to the VNAB Nurse Residency program?

I've always been interested in working in a community health setting, and the more I learned about home care nursing, the more I began to feel like it might be the perfect fit for me. I loved the concept of having concentrated one-on-one time with a patient, as well as building long-term relationships with patients and their families.

What's the most rewarding part of the VNAB Nurse Residency program?

Jumping into a home care setting as a new grad is very daunting. Fortunately, I had a wonderful preceptor who provided me with plenty of field support during my orientation, and my confidence grew in leaps and bounds during my first months at VNAB as I learned to depend on my assessment and critical thinking skills.

How did the residency program help you transition to your new role as an RN?

Home care nurses are truly jacks of all trades. I love that we see all types of patients, from elective knee replacements to complex heart failure and diabetes patients. We also perform all types of skills, such as administering IV meds, performing phlebotomy and changing complicated wound dressings. This experience has definitely helped me become a well-rounded nurse who is comfortable wearing many different hats.

What's a typical day like as an RN with VNAB?

One of the great things about working in home care is that every day is different. I work with an incredibly diverse patient population facing all sorts of health challenges. Usually, I see 5 to 7 patients per day in diverse settings including elderly and disabled apartment complexes, assisted living facilities and penthouse apartments. Each visit lasts about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the type of visit and the complexity of the case. I finish off the day by completing all my documentation on my iPad.

How did Simmons help prepare you for your career?

I had a variety of clinical experiences at Simmons that helped me become comfortable working not just with patients but also with my fellow nurses, physicians, aides and other clinicians. In particular, my preceptorship in my final semester definitely prepared me for my career as a nurse. On a busy cardiothoracic stepdown unit at Boston Medical Center I learned about time management, prioritizing and working with complex medical patients. By the end of the semester I felt more like a staff nurse than a student and I definitely felt prepared to tackle the “real world” of nursing.

What advice would give you give the BSN class of 2016?

Think outside the hospital! Traditional bedside nursing is a great option for many nurses, but there are so many rewarding job opportunities in the community as well. There's something really special about getting to know a patient in their home environment. Home care also offers great flexibility and an awesome schedule (no overnight shifts!).