Maryanne Streer, a registered nurse (RN) who transitioned into business development, is a care transitions coordinator for a home health company. Home health companies provide in-home care for patients; for example, if a patient had knee replacement surgery and returned home, but still needs care, a home health company can provide in-home nursing and/or physical therapy for the patient. Maryanne is part of the business development team that markets the company’s services to physicians, rehabilitation centers, and hospitals. A key component of her role is to educate patients and their families about the transition from the hospital or rehabilitation center to home. She ensures they understand what will happen from the time they are discharged to when a nurse comes to their house, which is generally 1-2 days after they are discharged. Educating patients varies greatly from patient to patient, but some examples are helping a patient understand medication, instructing a patient about wound care, or even teaching a family member how to change a catheter.
Maryanne is assigned certain facilities, including the local hospital and largest local rehabilitation center, and she builds relationships with people from those facilities to ensure they know her company is an option for discharged patients who need in- home care. Maryanne says the most important part of her job is to keep the patient at the center of what she does. She explained the “Golden Rule of Nursing” which is to treat patients as though they are part of your family.
Maryanne has a passion for working with the elderly and comments that people don’t often think about the aging population. She always thinks about how her elderly patients were once independent, working, and taking care of others. The transition can be so difficult for them. Maryanne pointed out that every nurse has a nursing super power, and hers is calming patients. She has a way of talking with patients to calm and relax them, and even to get them to take their medicine.
The most challenging part of her role is that there are patients who really want to go home, but aren’t candidates for home health because they have to stay in the hospital, need rehabilitation, or require hospice. Maryanne explained how difficult it can be to break the news to someone who is looking forward to returning home that they won’t be going home. She said knowing about various resources is useful because then she can help patients understand and feel better about another, more viable option.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a young girl, Maryanne was interested in psychology and wanted to be a psychologist. She recalled at another point wanting be an attorney; however, it was during her junior year of high school that she participated in a program called, “Spend a Day with a Nurse.” The program provided her with the opportunity to spend an entire day with a nurse in the maternity ward, and (of course) she fell in love with nursing. From that moment on, she wanted to be a nurse.
Despite being in the honors program in high school, going to college wasn’t an expectation in her family. In fact, it was rarely discussed. Both of her parents had dropped out of college and never asked if or where she wanted to go to college or what she wanted to do after high school graduation. She didn’t know how to apply for college, much less how she would even pay for it.
Luckily, Maryanne’s friend, who was one year older than her, had joined the Navy six months earlier. They wrote letters back and forth, and he encouraged her to join the Navy. Maryanne said that a lot of young women may not consider this, and prior to her friend’s encouragement, she didn’t either because she wasn’t athletic. Nonetheless, in a matter of only six weeks, she went out on her own to talk to the Navy recruiters. They visited her house, signed her up, and she was gone. Right out of high school, Maryanne had joined the Navy with a four-year commitment, because she knew it would pay for college.
As an 18-year-old, the military helped Maryanne grow up quickly. She called it, “a nice four-year maturity reality check.” She quickly learned structure and responsibility. She sarcastically said about boot camp, “I had never run a mile voluntarily in my life, but when people are yelling at you to run, you run!” While she didn’t love her assignment as a radar technician in the Navy, especially since she was hoping for a healthcare-related assignment, she made it through! And, it was the GI Bill that eventually paid for her education.
Maryanne took time off between the Navy and pursuing a degree. She stayed home with her son and then worked for an accounting firm as an administrative assistant. In three years, once her son was older, she went back to school in a hospital-based nursing program. Maryanne noted there aren’t a lot of programs like this now, but it was perfect for her because it provided a lot of hands-on experience. She received an associate’s degree, but after working the hospital for five years, she used the rest of her GI bill to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
Maryanne continued working at the same hospital, but went through a divorce. Knowing she would be a single mom and not have a great deal of family support in terms of childcare, she decided to look for a more flexible option. In the meantime, she moved from night shifts to day shifts, which also meant a significant decrease in pay.
While working as a nurse, she noticed sales representatives from home health companies and started talking with them. It really piqued her interest in home health, especially since there was so much buzz about home health being the future of nursing. There happened to be an opening with one of the home health companies; having just finished her bachelor’s degree, she applied and received the offer. She transitioned from nursing to sales. Eventually, she wanted to move closer to family so she called the care center closest to her family and, as luck would have it, they had an opportunity that hadn’t even been posted yet. She was able to transfer internally with the same company and moved to a different state, but in the same role. She absolutely loves what she does!
Maryanne offers this advice: “Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. You are capable of more than you realize…don’t let others dictate what you are capable of. If you set a goal that seems unachievable, break it up into steps and work towards each step. That is more doable and less overwhelming.” And, that is exactly what Maryanne did when she was a single mom, working full-time, and going to school full-time.
She said another thing that helped when her goals seemed insurmountable was to focus on BEING IN THE MOMENT; for example, if she was with her kids, she would focus on them and if she was writing a paper, she would be fully focused on that. Her goals were to finish her degree so she could get a better job and to be a good mom who was there for her kids.
Bringing the conversation full circle, Maryanne said she makes it a priority to speak with her kids about college and different career options.