Not all nursing careers take place within the four walls of a hospital. Many nurses serve their communities by going into patients’ homes and providing valuable one-on-one care. For Nicole M., a Professional Staff Nurse with UPMC Home Health Care, what began as an itch to connect more deeply with patients has transformed into a career that perfectly suits her lifestyle and her family.

Meaningful Patient Relationships

Nicole’s passion for home health nursing was born out of a desire to build strong relationships with her patients. After spending a decade working in the Neuro ICU and two years as a telephonic health coach, she felt she wasn’t as professionally fulfilled as she wanted to be. A switch to home health changed everything for her.

“As a home health nurse, the connection that I have with my patients is on a different level,” Nicole said. “My patients allow me to come into their homes, and it’s an honor that they trust me to do that.”

While all types of nursing involve caring for patients, Nicole has found that as a home health nurse, her patient relationships grow even stronger than before. “When you get to know your patients, you kind of become part of the family. Some of these people you’re seeing every single day. You become close with them and their families, and it’s really special.”

Independence and Responsibility

Because home health nurses go solo on most patient visits, they must be equipped to handle anything that comes their way. “You’re totally autonomous, seeing patients all day on your own,” Nicole said. “But we do stay connected [to the other nurses] at our monthly team meetings. We talk on the phone and we’re always communicating about patients.”

For Nicole, a nurse with over a decade of experience, she enjoys the independence to give her patients the care they need. Not only does she get to put her hard-earned clinical knowledge to good use, but the important role she plays in her patients’ lives is extremely rewarding.

“Before I became a home health nurse, I didn’t fully realize what all we do in the home. Some of our patients are so fragile and so sick, and we are the lifeline between the patients and the doctor. We’re the middle men.”

Putting Family First

One of the most important things that home health has given Nicole is the ability to juggle both family and career. While she began as a full-time home health nurse, Nicole decided to accept a casual role a year ago, which is a perfect fit for her family in this time of life.

“When my kids are in school, I work virtually full-time hours. But in the summers when they’re home, I back my hours way down. It strikes that perfect balance for me. I can go and see patients, have that bond with them, and still do outpatient care, but I also have a lot of flexibility with my kids.”

Every season of life brings new priorities and challenges, but in this season home health has been a perfect fit for Nicole. She told us, “I heard someone say once that work-life balance is a myth. When you’re at work you need to be thinking about work and you want to be thinking about home when you’re home. And I think that this career allows me to do that. I don’t have to worry about who’s going to pick up my kids. I feel like I can give my all to my work, but when I’m home, I can really be present at home.”

Are you ready to discover how your career can serve your community? Explore open positions on the UPMC Home Health Care team.