by Vickie Jenkins, Staff Writer
Valir Hospice Care is a family of dedicated professionals who care for terminally ill patients, providing them and their families with physical, psychological, social and spiritual support. Using individualized pain and symptom management plans, hospice team works to enhance the patient’s quality of life.
Meet Kristal Vasquez, RN, Community Educator Liaison with Valir Hospice. Kristal grew up in the Midwest City and Moore areas of Oklahoma. “I was blessed to spend my summers in Las Vegas with my father,” she said. “I went to nursing school at Moore Norman technology, where I received my LPN education, then Rose State for an associate in nursing science and OCU for my bachelor’s in nursing science. I am currently enrolled in Maryville University pursuing my masters in adults/geriatric primary care,” she stated.
Kristal has been a nurse for 16 years. The first job that she had as a nurse was Dialysis. “When I was little, I wanted to be a wife and a mother and a barber. Actually, after high school, I cut hair for 6 years while I was thinking about going to nursing school,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t know why it took me so long,” she added.
“I have worked for Valir for 3 years now and I have to say, I love my job! I love the interaction and relationship with the patient and their loved one. I have been blessed to meet so many amazing individuals and learn something from each one of them,” Kristal commented.
What is your biggest challenge about your job? “The biggest challenge is the fact that it is hard to see the patients go. Sometimes, we get so attached to the patient; it feels like losing a family member. That can be so rough at times,” Kristal said.
Asking Kristal what qualities make a good nurse, she replied, “I think a nurse should be caring, compassionate, kind, ethical, knowledgeable and hardworking.”
Qualities for a nurse with Hospice. “It’s pretty close to the same thing but I would add, honesty, dedication and mentally sound,” she replied.
Did anyone have an influence on you becoming a nurse? “Yes, my best friend, Jeany Neely encouraged me to join her in applying for nursing school when all the nursing shortages were all of the media reports. We both applied and we were both accepted and here I am. We lost Jeany in the last big tornado that hit Moore. She was such a dedicated LPN that served her residents well. Of course, I miss her but think of her often.”
Kristal’s greatest reward about her job is the blessing of being a part of someone’s end of life journey. “I have witnessed some amazing things as a patient peacefully passes on. I would like to teach others the importance of being with your loved one at the end of their life. So many of us are so busy in this hectic world that we miss the big picture. I am guilty of that myself with nursing and school,” she said.
What advice would you give someone that wanted to become a nurse? “I would tell them that it is a tough job and it is so important to think about self-care and personal needs. As nurses, we often run on empty and we don’t even realize it. Take time for yourself so you don’t burn out,” she said.
On a personal note, Kristal is married; 18 years and going strong! They have 2 children. Their pets include 2 dogs. She likes to spend time with the family, whether it is at the lake or traveling. Her greatest asset at work is her knowledge and skills. I asked Kristal where she saw herself in five years. “I have no idea what God has in store for me but I am excited about the next step. As a practitioner, I am hoping to have full practice authority and have a practice that holistically treats the elderly population. I want to educate patients on natural medical treatment optional.”
Summing up Kristal Vasquez, RN, Community Education Liaison with Valir Hospice, the words caring, kind and advocate are very appropriate. Thank you Kristal for being the person you are.