This feature is brought to you in partnership with Interim HealthCare.
Have you ever thought about leaving the bedside…for the boardroom? In partnership with Interim HealthCare, we’re talking to nurses across the country who have done just that! Here, Renee Rand talks about taking risks, getting the “ownership bug” and her hilarious “only in nursing story” that you’ll definitely sympathize with!
Franchise location: Redding, California
What type of nurse are you? “Old school!” I am a proud graduate of the diploma nursing program at the St. Joseph School of Nursing in little Marshfield, Wisconsin. [I was in the] first class where you did not have to live in the dorms…the nuns put me on probation my first year because I was not traditional. Entering at age 21, I had a 3-year-old, another job and was married…they really didn’t think I was a fit. I went on to get my BSN, and later a Master’s of Science in healthcare administration, but my initial diploma is what I cherish most and has guided me to be the leader I am today.
Where did you work before starting your franchise and for how long? My first job out of nursing school was on a 50-bed oncology floor. Amazing opportunity to work closely with the MDs, and our clinical nurse specialist had us extremely involved in research. She had a strong German accent and actually scared me, but had her nursing graduation picture in her office, which somehow softened her, so I would always remember that when I had to meet with her.
She encouraged me to take the first national Oncology Nursing Certification Test in 1986…I left hospital nursing for even more rural care in skilled nursing, but found a way to continue educating about oncology in that setting, admitting some of the first chemo patients in SNFs with continuous infusion pumps.
Another move took me to my heart’s desire, providing care in the home. I worked for a small private duty home care company, started their Medicare certification division from a manual I got in the mail. Then a friend purchased an OptionCare franchise with an infusion division, and wanted to build her home health, so off I went. And got the ownership bug….(that only took me about 20 years).
When and why did you choose to leave bedside nursing and start a franchise? After doing several different home care startups for corporations and other owners, I decided if I had another startup in me, I was going to have an ownership stake in it. In 2001 I traveled to Northern California to purchase a home care company I had so diligently found…but changes of Wells Fargo bank ownership to Norwest during my travels across country changed that plan, and led me to Interim HealthCare and a business partnership with the current owner, Robert, and my franchise ownership began.
Now joined by his wife, Cindy, we form a triple threat as we’re all RNs. I was given the opportunity to grow our personal care and support divisions to eight locations in three states. I never have felt like bedside nursing has been left; it is just delivered now through my leadership into the hands of amazing managers, office staff and the passionate caregivers every day. I must truly thank every one of them for allowing my nursing vision come to life and help me leave a legacy behind.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job? I truly love building strong teams of people who can learn from my nursing experience to impact the lives of caregivers in the home. Let me give you an example. I have never forgotten the skills I learned in nursing fundamentals…even using a washcloth was a procedure. I wanted that experience to be imprinted on our caregivers in the home, so a skills lab has been set up in all eight of our locations where caregivers gather in small groups to work closely with an instructor to develop those fundamentals of care that I hope stay with them so they can teach other family members. Build trust, empathetic listening and patient dignity, along with the physical and equipment skills, but don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions.
What’s the best part of being a business owner? I was never a risk taker…I played it safe being a good girl. After much plotting and planning, having the courage to take a risk and learning that it was OK to fail was my greatest life lesson gained from business ownership. But the best part is every morning looking at the nursing graduation picture on my office shelf and the ethical values I embraced when I became a nurse, and knowing they are still the guiding force in my business decisions and the care that our company delivers every day. I wish you could travel with me; sometimes it feels like my nursing is on cruise control because it comes on and you don’t even realize it. I love it.
What’s the funniest thing anyone’s ever said to you on the job? Back in my SNF days, I remember during one of many night shifts, a little 90-plus-year-old lady. I was getting her ready for bed, and since she only weighed 70 pounds, I could gently move her from chair to bed. Her arthritis was quite painful. As we arrived to her bed, and I was positioning the covers just so, she looked up and whispered in my ear, “Is your whole family big-boned, or just you?” “No,” I said, “just I have been blessed with the big bones”…laughing inside as I had my first experience of seeing how aging so gracefully removes the filters of language and you get the true feelings of seniors expressed. I have loved working with them ever since…but dang, I wish I was that “big-boned” 125-pound girl again.
Can you share an “only in nursing!” story from your own career with us? Well, this story will show you how naive I was (or maybe still am). When I was in nursing fundamentals, I really had no previous medical background. I had completed one year at our community college but no medical terminology, so have mercy on me for this one!
I remember our nursing instructor kept telling us to ask the patients if they had voided. Now the first few days, I didn’t say a thing, but after a week of this, I really could not figure out why in the world would we have to be so worried about the patients’ checking account and if they voided a check. I bravely raised my hand and asked, and I truly do believe the instructor wet herself (voided, I guess!) from the extreme laughter she experienced. Lesson learned–be prepared to shame yourself to save a patient.
If you could have dinner with any nurse–real or fictional, living or not–who would it be and why? I would love to have dinner with Sr. Barbara. She taught our medical surgical rotation in the diploma nursing program. I didn’t grow up with religion, so the nuns really inspired and intrigued me. She stood by me when it seemed like I was a jinx…every procedure I observed in surgery went wrong, and I truly thought I should quit. She would always find me a new patient the next day, and encourage me to keep positive. The day she stood by me in the scrub changing room, I kept trying to get a sneak peek of what they wear under those habits/robes. Felt bad but had to know…so I feel like I owe her an apology dinner if she knew I was looking! But sincerely, a big “thank you” for not letting me give up.
What’s one moment from your nursing career that you’ll never forget–either inspiring or humorous? Now 55 years old and having been a nurse for 31 years, this memory is still unforgettable. Going back to my diploma nursing last year, surgical rotation, Sr. Barbara still my champion…my scheduled patient for the day had died, so she put me in a safe area, prep and holding. I went around the filled room of anxious patients and tried to offer comfort, hoping not to give them my curse of death. Finally down to just one patient left, we got chatting a bit, and even some laughs…but then a strong hand grabbed my big-boned arm tight.
He was a large Italian man, and he was scared. He started to share some of his past regrets, and I listened intently and a bond of trust had formed. He asked if I could go into the surgery room with him just till he fell asleep. (My inside self was thinking, You really do not want me, I’m the jinx.) With Sr. Barbara’s permission and a hug from her, she whispered he would be my patient on the medical floor the next day. It was set…I was going in.
It was just a gall bladder surgery, for goodness’ sake, so I stood by his bed and helped wheel him in, my hand in his till the anesthesia kicked in and out I was…home quickly. The phone rings at 5 AM. Sr. Barbara calling, “Renee I have some news….you will not be going to the medical floor this morning. Your patient had a heart attack. Don’t worry, he is OK…he is on the cardiac floor. I am calling because he has been asking for you all night, saying you are his angel and your smiling face kept him alive. His family is with him and they all want you to come in early if you can and be with them. You will be his nurse today.” And I was…
Interim HealthCare® provides the flexible assignments you need to fit your life and your priorities. As America’s leading provider of home care, hospice and healthcare staffing, chances are, we have the right assignment to fit your life’s needs as well as the resources and opportunities to help you with your career. To apply online, visit www.careersbyweb.com. To find out more about becoming a franchisee, visit www.interimfranchising.com. To like us on Facebook, click here.