LPN Returns to her Beloved Field
by Jason Chandler
Caren Graham was a CNA for Golden Age Nursing Center in 2001. Graham is now a licensed practical charge nurse at the Guthrie nursing center. She works with a myriad of patients from skilled nursing to long-term care.
She is grateful that Golden Age paid for her scholarship to attend nursing school at Metro Tech in 2002 in Oklahoma City.
Graham loved school and signed a two-year contract with Golden Age stating that she would come back to work there. Before returning to Golden Age, Graham went into the field of home health when she graduated.
“The reason being is that I wanted it to be a slower pace so that I could get more familiar with patients and their diagnosis,” she said. “So I did that for a year and then I came back here and did my two years.”
The one year of home health did her a world of good, she said of being a seasoned nurse.
Graham then went to work with pediatric patients for eight years. She said being a pediatric nurse is good or bad with no in-between.
“I taught a 7-year-old how to smile but then again I had to say goodbye to some really young kids,” she said. “So for eight years I did that and was really happy, but just needed a break. So I came back to Golden Age.”
Golden Age provides a professional and efficient environment for nursing care, she said. That is what she likes about it.
“You know I don’t have to worry about my license being at risk,” Graham said. “I have been in some facilities where it’s everybody flies by the seat of their pants. We don’t do that here. It’s just very professional.”
She always wanted to be a nurse, she said. At age 16 she was a CNA living in Nevada. That was when nurses wore all white attire in a different era.
“My youngest son had passed away when I was 28,” Graham said. “And he was just an infant and it was very upsetting. I didn’t deal with that very well so I got out of nursing. As a matter of fact, I was a 21 blackjack dealer for quite a while in Vegas.”
There was some healing that had to happen within her spirit, Graham said. Then 20 years ago, she returned to Oklahoma to continue her journey as a nurse.
“The spirit knew where I was supposed to be,” she said.
She worked at a daycare in Guthrie for several years and met a nurse who worked at Golden Age. The conversation led her to work at Golden Age as a CNA. Everything fell into place for Graham.
“It’s my bliss. It’s what I was always meant to do,” Graham said. “I’m sure of that.”
Golden Age sets a high standard with their employees, she said.
Her second time at Golden Age is different than it was when she first worked here in a world of paper, she said. Learning the digital age of computers applied to nursing was intimidating at first for Graham, she said.
“You had to drag me into the technology era,” said Graham, 51. “I’m from the old school. So I worked with the young nurses. I have some experience they pull from and I pulled from their experience on the computers. So that’s working out great.”
Nurses in any field want to help someone who can’t help themselves, she said. So geriatric care is very gratifying for Graham. Helping the residents is more than giving them medicine. It’s determining what works for them by knowing their nuances, Graham said.
“I enjoy that. I enjoy a continuity of care when I can see people over and over. I learn their nuances, so I can see if their diet is working for them, so it’s the little, tiny nuances that I pick-up on when I have that continuity of care. And that’s a big thing here,” she said. “You don’t get switched around a lot. You’re not with somebody new the first day trying to figure out something that is chronic.”
She can put her head down at night and feel satisfied, Graham said. That is also the time she thinks of some of the best interventions for her residents.
“When I’m thinking about my day it’s like, ‘That’s it. That will help,’” Graham said. “When it’s quiet and all your tasks are done for the day, you can just lay there and reflect.”
During her leisure time, she and her husband like to travel. Their children are grown now. Graham enjoys listening to music and her husband plays golf.
“I have a granddaughter that just moved in with me so I’m kind of getting back into that role,” she said.