Nurses have a special talent. It takes a big heart, a lot of passion, and undeniable strength to do what they do. This week we interviewed my friend Kristin Metzger, a registered nurse at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson, Maryland.
- You have followed your passion and turned it into a successful business. Tell us about your passion, and how you’ve incorporated it into your life.
- Revisiting your childhood, what did you love to do?
- Was there a defining moment where you decided to follow what you love?
- Do you have people in your industry or out of it that have inspired your path?
- What are your superpowers?
- Do you create a vision board? Share a little insight on your board: do you update it and visit it often? What are some of your favorites on your board?
- Always improving, learning, growing, do you have any new obsessions or learning goals in the year to come?
I’m an RN, and my passion is hospice nursing. I work for Maryland’s largest provider for end-of-life needs, Gilchrist Hospice Care, at our 34-bed inpatient center in Towson.
When people find out what I do for a living, their reaction is sometimes “isn’t that so depressing?” And while the death of a loved one is devastating, I believe it is an incredible privilege to care for the dying, to really help people achieve what’s most important to them. Contrary to popular belief, hospice isn’t about giving up – it’s about truly maximizing the quality of life, no matter how much time remains. It’s about shifting the model of care from cure to comfort.
I was a dreamer with a massive imagination, always making up elaborate stories with stuffed animals and My Little Ponies. I was hooked on books – something my mom encouraged, for which I am eternally grateful! I loved poring through medical and anatomy college textbooks, and would ask Santa for them at Christmas. So we had this bookshelf full of kids books and sci-fi novels, nestled next to these really graphic, cerebral textbooks.
For family vacations, my dad would load the camper onto the pickup truck, and off we’d go to across the country. 5 of us and 2 dogs were packed into this little camper! I know we drove my parents crazy with our bickering, but I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world.
I was talking to my husband about changing careers to go to nursing school, and expressed my anxieties about math – something that has always challenged me. He said, “Wife, you will be amazing. I’ll help you, and I’ll do whatever it takes for you to succeed.”
At the time, I was working for a wealth management firm, and the company president offered me tuition reimbursement so I could attend nursing school. My best friend, sister, family, and friends were so encouraging of my decision. You know that saying, “it take a village to raise a child”? In my case, it took a village to get me through nursing school. My village made it all worth it.
Dame Cicely Saunders, for sure. She was a nurse, physician, and social worker, credited with starting the modern hospice movement. When the doctors were telling patients “there’s nothing more that can be done” – her response was “there is so much more to be done.” She saw the patient and family as the unit of care, and her holistic approach addressed not only the physical needs of the patient, but also the social, spiritual, and emotional needs.
My favorite philosophy of hers is “you matter because you are you, and you matter to the last moment of your life.” I believe that to be the case for everyone. I also work with some really amazing nurses, hospice aides, doctors, social workers, and chaplains, all collaborating to provide the best patient care possible, and they all inspire me with their unique and caring personalities. I feel so blessed to work with such an amazing group of people.
My vibrant, beautiful grandmother died receiving wonderful hospice care, and I think of her often as I care for my own patients – I strive to provide them with the same care I’d want my own loved ones to receive.
This is a tough one! I had to ask my husband, and this is what he said: “You shoot happiness out of your fingertips!”
On a more serious note, I think that one of the best superpowers that hospice professionals have is knowing when not to speak. There is so much comfort, support, and peace in the silence offered to those who are grieving or facing tough decisions. I think we, as people, try to fill in those gaps in conversation when perhaps just being present is the best gift we can offer.
While I don’t have a vision board per se, I often write poems about my experiences, and keep a private journal where I can process emotions and write out scripture. I revisit it often. It’s an outlet that helps me evolve, both as a nurse and a human being!
This year, I obtained my CHPN certification (Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse). My ongoing goal is to continue advocacy for the expansion of hospice and palliative care into rural communities and prisons. I’m also continuing my education through Western Governors University. I’m learning how to better care for myself, too! I’m such a bad relaxer. Setting aside quiet time to journal, read a book, or get a massage is so important for my health.
Thank you Kristin Metzger for sharing your passion for nursing with us! All that you do is so amazing. Going back to school is not easy, and to excel as you have is an inspiration to us all. Kristin has be acknowledged for her achievements with awards such as 2015 Top Nurses for Baltimore Magazine. If you have a passion that you hesitate to chase after, find a support team to help you through it, just like Kristin did!
Do you have a passion you’d like to share? Email me at email@example.com and you could be featured in our next blog and email newsletter!