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Three decades of nursing

Katie KiminskiThree decades of nursing

As a teenager, Katie Kiminski flinched when her mother said she had scheduled an interview for her at a retirement community just five blocks away. As a 16 year old high school student with no intention of working with the elderly, Katie thought the idea sounded awful. She couldn’t have predicted the career path that lay ahead.

Today, 37 years into her nursing career she admits, “It was never my intent to be a long term care nurse forever.” An impressive three decades later, she can definitively say it is her calling.

Necessity leads to vocation

Initially, Katie was hired as a nursing assistant at Bethany Convent which, in partnership with the Sisters of St. Joseph, became Carondelet Village, a Presbyterian Homes & Services community in St. Paul, MN. She worked through high school and while attending college at St. Catherine University. When she graduated in 1985 with a nursing degree, she had every intention to work in a hospital setting. At that time, however, there was an abundance of nurses and not enough available jobs in hospitals.

Necessity led to vocation as Katie took the next steps on her nursing career path, returning to Bethany Convent to serve older adults.

Looking back, Katie can see that she might not have recognized her full potential had she limited her initial career goals to the hospital setting. Katie shared words of wisdom for anyone exploring the nursing career path, “You have to find your passion. It makes going to work easier, even through the challenges. Find your niche that utilizes your strengths and the gifts you have been given. Find the clientele that you relate best with, no matter what age group or specific area.” She has no doubt found her niche—her calling.

Katie was a key player as Bethany Home transitioned to Carondelet Village in 2011. She trained resident assistants towards the necessary certification to work in a licensed long-term care center. She stretched herself in the Clinical Administrator role for the first six months after Carondelet Village opened to help residents and staff members from Bethany Home to transition into the new environment. “I am very grateful I could fulfill that role and be a familiar face in the midst of changes and challenges.”

Serving older adults - building meaningful relationships

Katie no longer lives five blocks from her workplace. She drives 31 miles to Carondelet Village and she believes the daily commute is well worth it. She brings her skills and compassionate heart to serve 36 residents who live at The Arbor memory care and The Commons assisted living. “I love that every day when I show up, I know who I am going to be caring for and working with,” says Katie. She recognizes that truly knowing the residents makes a world of a difference in the quality of care provided.

The hospital setting is by nature very transitional, short-term and focused on medicine and procedures which make it difficult to truly get to know the patients. In older adult services, staff members are able to take the time to get to know each resident, their preferences, their families and how to make them feel special. Katie recognizes each resident’s rich history. Even when they cannot remember themselves, nurses like Katie hold the memories for the residents and share in the joy of those special moments in conversation and interaction.

Many of the residents at Carondelet Village are members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet religious order. Katie recognizes that the sisters value living in community, especially at the end of life stage. Recently, Katie made arrangements for one of the sisters to return from the hospital to Carondelet Village late on a Friday following a debilitating stroke. Katie arranged hospice services so that the sister could pass on peacefully within her community of sisters. Katie may never know the full impact of staying late on a Friday to ensure the community experienced a sense of peace amid the sudden loss of a fellow sister.  

"Whatever it takes..."

Over the last three decades of her career, Katie recognized the many gifts she is blessed with that make her well-suited to serve as a nurse in long term care. She is even-keeled in high stress situations, which allows her to remain focused on the residents. She is trustworthy, as evidenced by the residents and family members who routinely pay her visits to share their thoughts with full confidence that she will follow through. “Whatever it takes to make them content in their new home; that is my goal” declares Katie.

Building strong relationships with families is a priority for Katie because she recognizes that the care she provides goes far beyond the walls of the community and stretches into the lives of so many others. “I like to see the residents and family members and to develop that trust level, so they know their loved one is getting good care.”

Working with older adults is not without its challenges, but PHS nurses recognize that they serve at a significant time in residents’ lives. Nurses like Katie have the honor of sharing in the memories of their past and the joy of the present to better serve the residents in mind, body and spirit.

During National Nurses Week, we extend gratitude to all Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses who consistently provide the highest level of quality care to residents and clients.

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