CAREERS IN NURSING: CAREERS IN NURSING A CALLING TO SERVE – TUSCANY VILLAGE NURSING CENTER
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Vickie King has returned to her roots as a nurse by going full circle. King returned to long-term care as a registered nurse working at Tuscany Village Nursing Center in Oklahoma City.
She has been with Tuscany Village for three of her 20 years as a nurse. She started out working in a nursing home as a CNA and CMA before becoming a licensed practical nurse and then a registered nurse. After 16 years of working in a hospital ER, King returned to the realm of nursing home care.
“The ER is pretty tough,” she said. “This is tough also, but it’s more of getting to know the residents, more personable. You see gratification in what you’re doing more than in the ER.”
She is appreciative for her experience in the ER, because what she learned often lends itself to quick developing acute situations in the nursing home.
“It helps a lot with your assessment skills. I can see what is going on, what’s going wrong,” she said. “I went back to what I started at.”
What keeps her at Tuscany Village Nursing Center is knowing that the residents there depend on her, she continued. They see her come to work Monday through Friday and depend on her being there, she said.
“A lot of them don’t have families that come often, so they depend on me, and I have the gratification of being sometimes the only person that talks about their past and what they’ve been through,” King explained. “And I love it.”
It is easy for King to become attached to the families of the residents, she said.
“I recently lost a couple that were very dear to me,” King said. “And it keeps me going. They need someone to help them. They need someone to take care of them — listen to them.”
The distinct personalities of the residents is a slice of life. They know from day-to-day that she will be there for them as an advocate. Residents depend on her when they are feeling well or during days they are of declining health.
“This is their home,” she said.
She commends Tuscany Village for having a core group of nurses sharing a team spirit. What makes Tuscany unique is that the nursing staff has worked together for many years. Director of Nursing Gina Hyde and the other nurses share a conviction that the residents will be taken care of, King said.
“That is very important here,” she said.
King said it was her grandmother’s life with dementia that compelled her to become a nurse. This was a time when she lived three doors down the street from her grandparents. Her grandmother would call her at 3 a.m. in confusion saying, “Let’s go pick the garden.’”
“And I would help my grandpa with her, and just kind of got to thinking I loved helping her and I loved helping him,” King said. “It kind of got into, ‘I can do this. I can make a difference.’”
So she attended LPN school in Woodward when she worked at a Grace Living Center in Woodward as a CNA. Grace sent her to LPN school. From there, she moved to Madill where she worked in a county hospital.
“And then INTEGRIS took over as part of their rural facilities. So I worked there for 16 years. And they are the ones that sent me to RN school,” King said of Murray State College in Tishomingo.
But King is not always on her toes. During her time at home she will read, she said. King has seven grandchildren. One of the boys is in college at Oklahoma State University, and another grandson keeps her entertained while she watches him place baseball.
“I enjoy seeing my grandkids,” she said.
King is not the only nurse in her family. Her aunt was one of the first nurses to go through the former nursing program at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City.
When returning to Tuscany Village, she is grateful to be welcomed by endearing residents and a professional staff, she said. The nurse assistants are also dependable, she said.
“There are specific aides on specific halls, and we’re like a big family,” she said.
The nursing staff is a blend of compassion, diligence, caring and patience, said King, who is also a good listener. Residents share their life stories with her.
“It’s just amazing that the 100 residents that we have here — some of them are from the area that I grew up in,” she said.