CAREERS IN NURSING
BLESSING FOUND – LPN GIVES LOVE AND RECEIVES PLENTY BACK
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Grace Living Center Wildewood is familly oriented, said Tracie Parks, LPN, Grace Living Center Wildwoode, located in Oklahoma City. She makes a second family with the nursing staff and residents at Grace because everybody works as a team and they care about their residents, she said.
The elderly keep her in the long-term care field of nursing.
“They’re in need. They let you know they’re in need and they appreciate you for what you do,” Parks said. “They’re like family.”
Parks is a 2010 nursing school graduate of Platt College in Moore.
“What inspired me was my nephew passed away with cancer,” Parks said. He was only 27 and Parks wanted to make a difference in the lives of others.
“I was looking at them and seeing what they were doing for him,” she continued. “What made me go ahead and do it was when I dropped my son off to college. Driving home I said, ‘It’s time for me to think about myself.’ And I went to nursing school,” she said.
She was a CNA when she was 21 years old, and the experience turned out to be valuable for her career as a nurse, she said. She became familiar with long-term care by providing the hands-on care that is required for the daily lives of the residents.
“You can help them, also,” she said. “We work as a team and we look out for each other. If someone can’t get something done on time, there is always someone there to back you up. We keep it going.”
She formerly worked as the assistant director of nursing at Grace Living Del City. She ventured off into home health but decided to return to Grace two years ago. Grace offers its staff a lot of flexibility with their hours in case they need to attend to a personal need such as a sick child.
“They work with you. If something comes up, management is always ready to step in and take over if emergencies come up,” Parks explained.
Nursing is also hard work, Parks said. Days or nights can be challenging at times, so it takes a compassionate and caring nurse to benefit the lives of the residents, she added.
“You have to be understandable. You have to be able to multi-task,” Parks said. “Once you get those qualities down and get into a routine you’ll be fine. A new nurse can get with someone to mentor them on how to multi-task.”
There will be residents with different personalities, similar to one’s own home, she said. So Parks said nurses learn to work with those personalities because two people will never be the same.
“That’s pretty much it. Once they get that down they’re going to be Ok,” she said.
Parks has made many friends at Grace. Many of the residents greet her as soon as she arrives at work. They are happy to see her, she said. When she leaves work, her heart follows.
“Just knowing that you have helped someone and just the feeling of someone looking forward to seeing you, appreciating you and what you do on an everyday basis. They depend on you for everything,” she said. “And I know I’ll get my blessings helping someone else.”
The residents at Grace Wildwoode are given abundant activities for enrichment. During the 4th of July Parks was working a double shift. She shared the day with the residents.
“They went outside and watched the sparklers,” she said. “They looked up at the fireworks from the Zoo or downtown. They looked forward to that. They waited until they could see the fireworks.”
“They had watermelon and they just had a good time. There were family members who came to visit.”
Some of the other activities shared by the residents include the game of Trivia. Parks said that they also love and look forward to playing Bingo on a regular basis.
“They go out. We take them to movies and they go fishing on weekends sometimes. There are a lot of activities here,” Parks said.
And Parks enjoys her life, too. When she is away from Grace she sticks to her hobby of writing in her spare time.
“I spend time with my grandchildren and just my family itself,” she said. “I’ve got a 7-year-old granddaughter that is having a birthday today. So that will be one thing I’ll be doing today.”
The facility has been spruced up with a new parking lot. A sidewalk is also being installed so that staff can take residents to a store during the days they need to purchase an item.
“I just love my job. I like working with the residents and I love my employees that I work with,” she said.