Jane has been with Transitions LifeCare for since 2013. She received her master’s in nursing from the University of Tennessee in Memphis. She received her post master’s certificate in palliative and hospice care from Vanderbilt University. Jane’s 40 years of nursing experience include primary care, intensive care, oncology, and 15 years in palliative care.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who pursue advanced education and clinical training which prepares them to provide a wide range of services to patients including evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, education and coordination of care. Similar to physicians, Nurse Practitioners are able to prescribe medication, treat illness, and administer physical exams. Nurse Practitioners focus is often on prevention, wellness and education.

Tell us a little bit about your nursing career:

I’ve been a nurse since 1975. My first clinical experience was on a medical-surgery floor and I graduated from there to ICU where I spent the bulk of my nursing career as a medical ICU nurse extraordinaire! I became the guru of all things high tech, and provided aggressive intervention at all levels. I taught classes on assisting with Swan-Ganz lines - pulmonary artery catheters, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) instructor trainer classes and was preceptor for many baby nurses for 20-plus years. Then I went to an oncology and myelosuppression unit. Throughout this time I went back to school several times and became a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and worked in family practice intermittently.

What sparked your interest in hospice and palliative care?

Working in the ICU and oncology areas and becoming a member of the ethics committee is the short answer. I began to see that most of the patients I cared for died, especially the elderly, and we never told the families the truth about the situation AND even worse, they had “tortured deaths” by CPR or other complications of their disease(s). I also started asking the families, or the dying person, would they want CPR given how sick they were?  Asking that question got me into a lot of trouble with the doctors and I started bringing these cases to the ethics committee meetings….this was the beginning of my journey into palliative care.

I started researching about dying in ICU and found palliative care. From there I presented a proposal for the first palliative care nurse at my hospital at the time. That nurse was not me, because I knew I still had much to learn about the field of palliative care, but I helped to interview and hire our first palliative care nurse.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

On a personal life basis, it is raising a “blended family” of two step-daughters and a son, with seven (soon to be eight) grandchildren, and having a relatively functional, loving family unit and being a wife to my husband of 40 years.

On a professional basis, it would be that I’ve helped to establish two palliative care programs in large hospital systems, and am working on a third program now through Transitions LifeCare at WakeMed.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Two things, both equally enjoyable:

  1. Helping the patient and their circle of care know the truth so they can plan for the future in an honest way (so they don’t waste time they don’t really have) and of course treating symptoms and making the patient feel better.
  2. Teaching the staff about what palliative care is and what it can do for the patient and families as well as the provider. I especially enjoy the challenge of changing the perception of a provider (both nurses and other health care providers) who feels that palliative care is for only dying people into one who sees what we can do to help with their most difficult patients.

What are the biggest challenges of your job?

It feels like we are always on fast forward, seeing patients and families, and it’s always a crisis management mode in the hospitalized patient. So it is really important that we re-group on a continual basis to do checks on each team member as well as to  keep reconnecting with our colleagues at the office and in the community.

How do you feed your spirit and recharge?

By knowing that when I’m at work, I give 100% to the patients, families, and staff. I know this is clean, honest work where there are no layers of deception in the information we give to patients/families. When I’m not at work, I can enjoy all the rest of life with family and activities like everyone else and pretty much leave the door closed on work.

I love exercise that makes me hot and sweaty, like running, hiking mountains, and Bikram yoga.

My day starts with coffee, my Bible and prayer. I’m grateful for all the blessings of family, health, and life in general. I ask daily “what do I do today to serve my Creator, by serving others?”

At the end of the day, I’m thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to serve others, and I get paid for doing it!