Caring for Family Prompted Nursing Career

Director of nursing at Loretto challenges her staff to do a TikTok dance to lighten the mood

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Boss
Boss

Nursing has become much more of a challenging career in recent days as work hours lengthen and providers feel stretched to their limits battling COVID-19.

Meredith Boss, director of nursing at Loretto Health and Rehabilitation, said that it’s been difficult ensuring staff are safe and comfortable. While most safety measures are mandates and decisions made outside her control, Boss has come up with some creative ways to generate esprit de corps.

“I’ve challenged all the staff to do a TikTok dance to lighten the mood,” Boss said as one example. “It’s scary out there; people are afraid.”

Boss has been nursing over 10 years. Her desire to care for others stemmed from aiding her father’s recuperation from emergency quadruple bypass surgery since her mother would have to take time off from work to care for him.

“My mom was a nurse so I was raised by a nurse,” Boss said. “There’s something about having a seasoned nurse as your mother.”

She said that her mother taught her how to lead patients and do her part in working with a team. By caring for her father, Boss realized that she enjoyed taking care of others.

The experience inspired her to complete nursing classes at Crouse Hospital College of Nursing in 2008. She obtained her registered nurse credential and began working at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center.

“I love caring for other people and making a difference in their day,” Boss said.

Four years ago, she began working at Loretto, initially, as a nurse manager for a 46-bed rehabilitation unit. After she worked a year in that role, Loretto started a telemetry unit, which helps patients prepare for returning home. Boss was tapped to head the unit. Last July, Boss became director of nursing at Loretto.

She feels especially drawn to working with patients in their last days.

“I comfort those who are at end of life,” Boss said. “It’s meaningful to know you did that last back rub, put that lotion on their legs.”

She also likes working with family members in meaningful ways, like explaining the disease process and the symptoms their loved one is experiencing.

“I like being there to step up when we’re short-staffed, whether it’s a CNA, RN or whatever,” Boss said.

Though she’s the nurse manager, she’s willing to fill in as needed at whatever level, she said.

She believes that nurses need to bring to the job a sense of compassion, selflessness, dedication and genuine desire to help.

“Definitely, you need to have math skills and a science background to understand disease processes,” Boss said.

Her biggest day-to-day task is meeting staffing problems.

“Nursing and staffing shortages are challenging,” Boss said, “and making sure they have the right skillset. Critical thinking isn’t always coming out of the schools.”

She reminds nurses to “never forget why you became a nurse. Don’t get caught up in the money; it’s not about the money. The biggest reward is making a difference, making a patient smile.”

Boss hopes to continue her education to become a family nurse practitioner and “continue to be a leader in nursing and have an impact on the nursing profession and the staff I work with,” she said.

The single mom has two teenagers. She likes to take vacations with them and spend time with her children and their English bulldog.

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