“Brandy by nature is a thinker, planner, and organizer; however, she is always eager to assist when plans change at the last minute.”
That description truly sums up the characteristics of an outstanding nurse! As PointClickCare continues our Nurse of the Month spotlight series, we focus this month on Brandy Malone. A former director of nursing (DON), Brandy is currently Lead Critical Consultant for Convacare Management, Inc. She began her career in long-term care (LTC) as a Certified Nursing Assistant, attended nursing school to become an LPN, and later returned to college for her RN degree – all while maintaining a household and raising a son. Although Brandy has been a nurse for 18 years, she initially imagined herself following a different path.
“I always wanted to help, and enjoyed taking care of things. I originally planned to go to vet school, become a veterinarian and care for animals. But that switched to people while I was taking my prerequisites for school. Besides helping people, I felt there would always be good job security in nursing.”
Rewards Balance the Challenges
Brandy admits that being only one person, unable to control what everyone else around you is doing, and how they respond to a given situation, has been her greatest challenge as a nurse. However, she has always tried to look at circumstances from a wider perspective, considering the overall effect of her actions or decisions, and what will best lead to positive outcomes. Brandy has worked hard to balance being thoughtful and reactionary, first as DON and now a consultant, and says both roles have been very fulfilling.
“I was a director of nursing for a very long time, and enjoyed building rapport and relationships with my staff, our residents and their families in one facility. And as a consultant, I can have an even greater effect being in multiple buildings. I’m able to improve more lives, and make positive changes on a larger scope.”
Brandy also cherishes the impact that her residents have had on her career and her life.
“They are amazing! I love taking care of the older population, hearing their stories, and seeing their faces light up when we celebrate holidays. Watching the joy that children and animals bring them is very touching. And being able to help residents and families through difficult times – and processes they don’t often understand—is why I do what I do every day.”
Information Technology = Better Quality of Care and Life
Brandy is enthusiastic about the growth of information technology in nursing, and in the long-term care industry; as she puts it, “it helps to streamline everything.” Although many facilities have found it challenging at first to go from paper to computer – there is always a learning curve – she says they realize the benefits of the right systems fairly quickly.
“The vast amount of information that’s readily available without searching through pages and pages, plus the customized searches and reports, is remarkable. As a director of nursing, being able to monitor what my facility is doing, whether I’m there, on the road or at home, saves a great deal of time. It gives us information much more rapidly, so we can act on it and intervene more quickly.”
Brandy points out that information systems enable facilities to take a “deep dive” that wasn’t previously possible.
“Technology completely improves the quality of care we can deliver and the quality of life for our resident and their families, because we have access to so much more information to analyze and use. In the past, no one had time to look at everything we can now see thanks to technology.”
Nursing is Worth the Commitment
If you’re considering a career in nursing, Brandy has some well-earned words of advice.
“Always be patient, remember why you started on this path, and understand that it’s not an easy one. Nursing is not what you see on TV. It requires a significant commitment from you and your family…but it’s really, really worth it. When you see that smile on a resident’s face, or a family thanks you, or you’ve given someone comfort and peace in their final days, you know you’ve made a difference.”
Brandy hopes that in ten years she’ll still be consulting with DONs and nurses, and having a greater impact on more residents’ lives.
“If I’ve trained one person to be better and more diligent in the care they deliver and the processes they use, I am confident they will pay that forward in the communities they serve.”
Time to Turn Around a Bad Rap
Brandy is distressed by the negative perceptions of nurses, and hopes the Year of the Nurse will begin to erase some of those misconceptions.
“I hope it focuses on the good we’re doing, to remove some of the negative images people have of nurses as a whole, and long-term care in particular. Nurses are human beings, so we’re going to make mistakes like everyone else. But we do good work, and we want what’s best for people who need us. There are many positive things going on in nursing and long-term care that aren’t seen or discussed – it’s time to make them known!”
While Brandy sees her nomination and selection as Nurse of the Month as a “huge compliment and amazing recognition,” she considers herself a behind-the-scenes person and points to others who should be in the spotlight.
“The DONs and nurses are the real stars of our facilities. I just show them ways to get their work done more efficiently. I thank my employer, and all the people who work in the facilities, as I couldn’t make a difference without them.”
Congratulations, Brandy, and thank you for showing the best side of nursing!