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NSU graduate realizes that the dying process is not just a medical event, but a personal one
May 18, 2013 | 168 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Northwestern State University graduate realized through service-learning that the process of dying is not just a medical event, but a personal one.  Crystal Holley of Shreveport, a senior who received her Associate of Science in Nursing degree on May 10, is a volunteer with Amedisys, a home health and hospice company, who finds working with patients facing the end of life enriching and rewarding.

Northwestern State nursing students are required to complete service hours every semester, but Holley found a special place in her work with hospice patients.

“I was looking for something long-term.  Hospice hits home for me.  I have the utmost respect for hospice nurses,” Holley said. “During my volunteer training I was told ‘You will know within a minute if this is for you or not.’  I became a nurse because I want to help people.  A lot of nurses aren’t drawn to hospice care because you are going to lose patients, but it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”

Holley spends time each week with her patients and developed a close relationship to one particular individual.

“We will go grocery shopping or sit and talk or watch movies,” she said. “He has helped me more than I’ve helped him.  It’s been a blessing and it’s opened my eyes to things.  People, as they approach the end of life, see things in a different perspective and it’s been meaningful to me, from where I am now starting my life.”

Holley said Amedysis’s focus is not on taking away hope, but in reframing hope and maintaining the patients’ quality of life.

“I thought it might be sad but it’s not.  The patients are not sad and they want to help you.  My patient says ‘I’m here for you, too.’ It’s so rewarding.  I couldn’t have asked for a better place to volunteer.”

During her childhood, Holley’s grandfather had several open heart surgeries and she frequently visited hospitals.  She realized that although most people are uncomfortable in a hospital, she felt at home there.  She briefly considered pursuing a degree in psychology, but decided on nursing as a career instead.

“I knew the first day of clinicals this is exactly where God wants me to be.  I truly enjoy patient interaction,” she said. “Patients don’t always have family or their family can’t be there with them all the time, so nurses become their family.  You are sometimes a stand-in for the family.  You are there for more than their physical well-being, you are also there for their emotional and spiritual well-being.”

After graduation, Holley will begin her career and hopes to gain experience medical/surgical nursing experience while continuing to volunteer with hospice patients.

“She has gone above and beyond,” according to LeahAnn Young, assistant professor of nursing and coordinator for Level 4 students, who said Holley brings joy to her hospice patients simply by spending time with them.  “This was an outstanding service-learning project that she continues to participate in.”

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