17 October 2018

When it comes to choosing a career, nursing has been considered a top profession for decades. Being a nurse is rewarding, challenging, in-demand and well respected. In fact, this year nursing topped Forbes’ list of American’s Most Trusted Professions when it comes to the perception of ethical standards. People notice that nurses are often in their positions because they really care about people.

We feel that way about our nurses at Brookdale. We know our nurses do their jobs well and with a passion for our residents. In fact, we want other nurses to see our nurses in action, so new nurses can learn more about nursing in senior living. That’s part of the reason Brookdale Vacaville in Vacaville, California, teamed up with the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis to give some of their nursing students regular exposure to our community as part of their education. In this program, students with a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing take classes toward a master’s degree in nursing. Often, these students are coming to nursing as a second career.

The students work at Brookdale Vacaville weekly for five weeks. During their time in the community, these student nurses were able to practice health assessment on the residents and learned more about potential challenges of obtaining full health assessments on seniors, particularly those who may be memory impaired. They took vital signs, performed blood sugar checks and occasionally helped residents with bathing and wound care.

“The students learned an incredible amount through their experiences at Brookdale,” said Colleen Burckin, a registered nurse and clinical instructor with the school. “Overall, they learned that there is a wide array of physical and mental functionality in our seniors. Often age is irrelevant."

“They learned to avoid assumptions, face their age-biases and grow in their understanding of the often complex needs of the residents,” she continued. “Their awareness grew of the importance of fostering autonomy in a safe and individualized manner and how to build rapport and trust. They learned greater patience and compassion as they attempted to mitigate frustration and confusion in the Memory Care residents.“

Also according to Burckin, the experience at Brookdale Vacaville gave the students experience and perspective on seniors that they can use in other care settings, like hospitals and clinics, which would not have had without their time in a senior living community.

Brookdale Vacaville Executive Director Robin Stouder was also excited about having the students in the community regularly.

“Our residents enjoyed the fresh and vibrant faces the students bring,” she said.” 

"Nurses in this space have an opportunity to put their skills to the test,” said Kim Elliott, senior vice president of Clinical Services at Brookdale. “This type of nursing program not only enhances the experience of the residents but it creates a unique opportunity for nurses to gain operational experience that they may not have otherwise had.”

There’s never been a better time to be a nurse at a Brookdale community. With nearly 1000 communities in 46 states, there are opportunities all over the country.

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