CAREERS IN NURSING
GOLDEN LADY: LONG-TIME LPN KEEPS ON MOVING
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Nan Darkis has learned a wealth of knowledge since she graduated Oklahoma City Practical Nursing School in 1968. She doesn’t regret her choice and keeps on working. It adds meaning and fulfillment to her life, she said.
Darkis serves as a licensed practical nurse at the Golden Age Nursing Center in Guthrie. She worked at Job Corps for many years, but described the nursing home and Job Corps as two distinct entities. Darkis joined the staff at Golden Age two years ago.
“What keeps me here? This is the work I like to do,” Darkis said. “I live in Guthrie and I want to work in Guthrie. I’ve always worked in Guthrie. I don’t like traveling. I found that out going to school in Oklahoma City.”
Working at Golden age is great for Darkis because she enjoys developing friendships with the residents that she cares for on a daily basis.
“You get to know them,” she said. “You get to see some improvement by just being there for them.”
Darkis had not been in a nursing environment before she went to nursing school. But she decided to become a nurse when she was fresh out of high school, she said. Darkis got married and raised a family. It was then that she decided to work as a nurses’ aide.
“The lady that trained me and oriented me and everything — that’s when I started liking it,” she continued. “I decided that is what I wanted to do.”
At Golden Age Darkis has found much to appreciate about the fine care the nursing staff provides to the residents at home there. She said the nursing staff is honest and always willing to help one another do the right thing.
“They’ll tell you if you’re doing wrong,” Darkis said. “They’ll tell you if they know something about a resident that you don’t, especially coming in new, because when I came over here two years ago, of course I didn’t know the residents. So my mentor was very, very good by helping me by being patient and honest.”
“If there was anything I would do wrong, she would explain to me what’s going on with the rules and policies. Each nursing home is different but she did that for me.”
Darkis also learned about entering what was once paper data into a digital format on a computer. Working at Golden Age brings out the best qualities of a nurse.
“Caring and honesty are important,” she said. “Really caring for your fellow person is what I think you need. You know God loves all of us. And He wants us to love one another. That’s what he told his disciples.”
Life can be challenging. So can being a nurse, Darkis said. But God said, “Love one another as I have loved you,” Darkis said.
Nurses must be patient when caring for some residents who might do something one minute and forget about it the next minute, she continued. So nurses cannot hold any judgements against their patients.
Residents have lived life like anyone else and find respect at Golden Age. They are given ample opportunities for activities. They also like to share stories about their families and their histories.
“There’s one or two that I might just go in and sit down and we’ll talk about different things,” she said. “I try not to get to close. But you get close enough.”
Some of them share a passion for gardening with Darkis.
“I like to garden,” she said. “I have tomato plants and pepper plants out now. I plant flowers and I like to play Solitaire on the computer. I play the one card. I don’t like the two or three cards. It’s kind of relaxing to me.”
She also has a lot of grandchildren that she likes to visit for a couple of days. Her youngest son lives in Colgate, about 30 miles from Ada. He has six boys and two girls, Darkis said.
“So when I go down there it’s all those different personalities, but it’s kind of a boost to me,” she said.
She also has a niece who is a nurse and a grandniece working as a nurse. Her youngest son is a physical therapist.