by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Shelby King has a pleasant persona as a skilled LPN and charge nurse at the Warr Acres Nursing Center.
A graduate of Platt College in Oklahoma City, King has been a nurse since 2007. She actually began her journey as a CNA in high school in 1995. And she keeps her career going due to her love of Warr Acres residents.
“They have become like family to you when you become family to them,” she said. “They are historians. You can sit down and talk to them and find out all kinds of stuff from their past and historically the past.”
King said there are hospital nurses and long-term care nurses and they are two completely different types of groups.
“I think back and I enjoy them. I’ve quit nursing a couple of times and I go back,” said King, who has been with Warr Acres for three months. “I actually heard good things about it and I wanted something new. I wanted to be in a new place and get a new start from the facility I was at previously.”
“One of my friends works here and told me to come in and try it out. I’m glad I did. I enjoy it.”
She discovered a nursing center staff filled with compassion and patience, she said. They work as a team when long-term care nursing can be a challenge.
“It can be frustrating sometimes but you just have to take your time. Compassion is a lot of it,” she said.
King was young when she aspired to become a nurse. Her mother tells her that she would always ask for first aid kits for Christmas. As King got older, she thought about becoming a hair stylist, but her mother told her to instead chose a secure career to make money. She has two children to feed at home.
“Once I started doing it I really enjoyed doing it,” she continued.
Her role requires her to be firm but fair with the staff, she said, because the CNAs and the CMAs are working under her nursing license. Mutual respect is essential.
“The CNAs and CMAs are a huge part of what we do,” she said. “I can’t do my job without them. They can’t do their job without the nurses.”
King said being self-motivated helps in her career because she also works independently at times. Knowing the components of what it takes to provide the best patient care cannot be dismissed when it comes to long-term care, she said.
“In all the hospitals, they have all the extra gadgets to kind of monitor what’s going on. You have to be aware of what you’re doing and know the signs and symptoms of what’s going on — even little minute changes,” she said.
The CNAs and CMA’s are often the eyes and ears for the nurses when they are away from their residents. So they are highly respected at Warr Acres, she added.
“We have to listen to them as well. So it’s just being able to work well with others also,” King said.
King knows from her own experience as a CNA that communication is important. She is also a better nurse to have been a CNA and a CMA, she said. King empathizes with the needs of the CNA.
“As a nurse there is nothing that I won’t do,” she said. “If I’m at a stopping point and I’m capable of taking someone to the toilet or change their clothes — that is still my job description even though I’m a nurse,” King said. “And there are nurses that forget that. You know that is still our job description.”
She works in both long-term and skilled nursing units of the nursing center and likes the variety.
“I actually like wound care a lot,” she said.
So she plans to become a certified wound care specialist. She is content with being an LPN but could go that route sometime in her career.
“I’m still debating,” she said. “My mother says, ‘Yes.’ But I’m not a paper nurse and I like long-term care. Registered nurses in long-term care on the office side of nursing, and I enjoy being a floor nurse. I enjoy it. That’s what I’m good at. That’s what makes me happy.”
King has experience in human resources and has been an assistant director of nursing but is happiest when interacting with her patients whom she loves.
She likes to make the new residents feel at home when arriving at Warr Acres Nursing Center. The other residents also extend their greetings and support, she said.
She catches up on her sleep when she is not at work and when her children are at school. Beyond that, King enjoys gardening and taking her boys out.
“I spend a lot of time with my kids,” she said. “On my time off I’m a homebody. Solitude doesn’t bother me.”