By Christina Sibley Lic. Insurance Producer, Bachelor of Science Health Studies/Gerontology.

By Christina Sibley BSHS, NREMT, RMA (AMT), Licensed producer Life and Health OK, KS, TX

2020, the year of the Nurse and Midwife. It was also the year many Nurses and other healthcare providers found themselves stretched to the breaking point, leaving or seriously considering leaving the profession. And while we all hope that 2021 will be an improvement, for many the damage is done. So, what does a born caregiver do when they still have the heart to care for people, but they need a different pace or environment?

While I am not a nurse myself, I know a bit about trying to find my way as a healthcare provider and caregiver when my chosen path wasn’t in God’s plan for me. I learned over the course of the last 20+ years that there’s more than one way to save a life, including my own. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Back in the late 90’s I started my path in EMS training. It was the first time in my life I felt like I knew what I was meant to do. I was sure of it, more than I’d ever been of anything, but I ended my training as a single working Mom and 24-hour shifts were not an option going forward.
Over the years, my path would twist and wind many times. On the recommendation of a lady Paramedic I knew, I was asked to go to work as an assistant in a physician’s office. When an opportunity for advancement would come my way, I wasn’t afraid to take it. I would get to work for and eventually become regional supervisor for a private at-home-care company. I’d eventually become an allied health instructor/program director, teaching medical assisting and phlebotomy at a community college.
Then, in 2015 I’d marry a man who’d steal me away to Oklahoma City. It was my husband who suggested I try health insurance, particularly Medicare, since my degree had a gerontology emphasis. At the time, I was skeptical, it sounded very boring and “desk jobby” to me. As it turns out, it was the best professional decision I’ve ever made.
He really should have led with the fact that I’d get to spend my days visiting with senior or disabled clients in their homes and petting their dogs and cats. I don’t get in trouble for talking too long, getting too personal, or doing things that are outside of my job description, like helping with a Medicaid application. I run my own show, own my own business, make my own schedule. The income is the best I’ve ever had personally. While the insurance stuff, the easy part, pays the bills, it also opens my schedule to do the real work, the stuff I love the most, helping people in any way I can.
More often this year, I’ve found myself helping people who don’t have computers (or have no idea how to use one) do online applications because government offices are closed. Sometimes, I’m the professional voice on the other end of the phone line when they need someone to stand up for them. Sometimes, I’m company for the lonely; lifesaving at its simplest.
I always feel like what I do makes a difference and sometimes it does save a life, literally. I recently had a client, who lives alone, tell me that her emergency response button, that I helped her get, was the only way she got help when she had COVID and collapsed when she couldn’t breathe.
Stories like hers, and those relationships, are why I love what I do. It’s why my goal going forward is to help others learn, to mentor caregivers who want to transition into a fulfilling career, where they can be as independent and autonomous as they want. No manager looking over their shoulder. Support and help when you need or want it. If you are a caregiver needing a change, even part-time, but still want to be able to use your skills and heart to help others, please reach out. The coffee is always on me.