What draws a nurse like Luwana to this job, and why does she stay? How does she avoid burnout?
While some nurses are drawn to this job because there’s reason to believe this sort of work can make a long-term difference, what keeps them in it, I think, is the other nurses.
~~~~~Q&A "Children of the Bayou" (New Yorker Magazine online)
Very interesting article in this month's New Yorker describing a "nurse visitor" program in Louisiana. This particular program is intended for young, first time moms and it aims to both improve children's outcomes and decrease child abuse. Like most programs it is hit or miss at times, but there is evidence it is making a difference. I recommend this article if you are interested in seeing a working "home visitor" program that appears to be helping at least some young moms and babies.
Also if you would like a factual and non-sensational description of what it's like to visit impoverished homes, with the attendant drug abuse and crime on the periphery-in the midst of which live little babies and developing children, the future of America.
Whether or not you have access to the article, the Q&A is available at the New Yorker web site. The dedication and stick-to-it spirit of a fellow nurse can always bring a gleam of pride to my eye.
The article describes a weekly team meeting held by the nurses, in which they describe new and current clients. Like most home-based or community-based case managers, these nurses must get pretty lonely driving around poor backroads by themselves. I think the author has hit on an important factor in why they stay: each other. The support and understanding that another "home-visitor" can give (not to mention the shared perspective) is so vital. Only another person in the same kind of unique situation of counselor-care manager-teacher-role model can hear the concurrent respect and despair when you describe a particular situation, for one thing.
And call you on the carpet with authority, when they don't hear the respect. And mean it.