As a military veteran and a seasoned licensed practical nurse with a twenty-five-year career, James H. has cared for patients in all kinds of environments. Now, he is leveraging his diverse background to care for the elderly in his own community, at Canterbury Place.
From Serving Our Nation . . .
Born in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood, James joined the Air Force as a young man and quickly found himself outside of his comfort zone.
James didn’t have any prior experience in the clinical world, but when given the choice between health care and intelligence for his military work, he knew that a health care career would offer him the best opportunities in life. “I didn’t really choose health care, but in the back of my mind I knew that it would get me a job once I got out of the military,” James said.
James dove into this new line of work and quickly picked up valuable skills. “When I was in the Air Force, I worked in a clinic where we serviced the pilots,” James said. “We took in new pilots and made sure they were flight ready. Working alongside the flight surgeon, I learned how to do eye exams, ear exams, audiograms, chest x-rays, and EKGs.”
While James had no idea where his career would take him, he could already tell he was being equipped to care for patients for a long time.
. . . To Serving Our Seniors
When he left the service and returned to Pittsburgh, James enrolled in a certified nursing assistant (CNA) program at a local trade school and worked in that profession for several years. But before long, his desire to climb the career ladder and grow in his profession led him to further his education as an LPN.
After spending several years in a nursing agency, James’s journey as an LPN has brought him to a facility where he feels right at home: Canterbury Place, part of UPMC Senior Communities. “I can compare Canterbury Place to a lot of facilities where I’ve worked, but this one stands out. It’s so nice here,” he said, “because it’s not your average nursing home.”
At Canterbury Place, James has found immense meaning in a completely new role, as he cares for patients in need on the dementia unit. “My day in a nutshell is simple: our goal is to make our residents comfortable and at ease. In some ways, it’s like dealing with children who have lost their way. Often they just want to go home.”
“We deal with physical needs and emotional needs as well,” James said. “I’m always trying to tell our residents that it’s okay, you’re going to be fine. And the truth is, you fall in love with a lot of them along the way.”
The Long-Term Care Lifestyle
As an experienced LPN, James could choose to work anywhere, but he has found that the rhythm of Canterbury Place is perfect for him. “I’ve worked in hospitals; I’ve worked a lot of different places. This business of long-term care has a different rhythm,” James said.
“It can be hectic at times, but overall, it’s not fast-paced. Long-term care gives you some stability, like you know what time you’re going to get home every day. You know what to expect. For me, it’s just a better pace.”
Reflecting on his past twenty-five years as an LPN, James has provided care in almost every kind of health care environment, from hospitals to senior care facilities. Yet everywhere he goes, his purpose remains the same: “My purpose is to care for people. So it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from—I’m going to care for you as best as I can.”
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