Every nurse has their own special story to tell. The GIFTED Spotlight series aims to share the stories of the amazing nurses we serve.
We recently interviewed GIFTED Nurse Amy Benefield, a standout member of team GIFTED. Amy shared the story of how she became a nurse, her philosophy of care, how to survive on the night shift, and much more!
Read on to learn about Amy Benefield’s nursing journey in our latest GIFTED Spotlight!
Becoming a Nurse
Amy Benefield grew up in a small town named Rusk, Texas. She originally wanted to become a teacher, which is what she began studying in college immediately after high school.
However, shortly after her first year of college, Amy’s interests began to change. Around this time, Amy’s grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. As her grandmother’s disease progressed, Amy spent more time caring for her. She found the work very rewarding and meaningful.
“I realized, this is what I need to do,” Amy said. So, she decided to pursue a career in nursing.
With some encouragement from her husband and sister, Amy decided to explore all of her options and applied to the LPN Program, Surgical Tech Program, Medical Coding Program, and the Nursing Program at Meridian Community College in Meridian, Mississippi. She was surprised to find out that she was accepted to all of them, but felt that nursing was her calling.
A Hopeful Beginning
Amy developed an sense of purpose and drive early on in her nursing education.
”Once I made the decision, I knew that nursing was what I wanted to do, and I wanted to be the best I could be,” she said.
During our interview, Amy shared an essay she wrote during her first week in nursing school, titled, “How I Can Make a Difference in Nursing.” From the very start, it’s clear that Amy knew that nursing was her calling.
Here is an excerpt from Amy’s essay:
“I want to make a difference in nursing by having a positive impact on the health and well-being of people I am privileged to serve. I want to be the nurse everybody loves to have…Nursing is a career path that can be filled with new challenges, struggles and job every day….When I think about all the patients and loved ones I hope to work with, I know most of them will not remember me nor will I remember them. But I will give a little piece of myself to each of them and them to me and those threads will make up the beautiful tapestry in my mind that is my career of nursing.”
COVID-19 and Working With GIFTED Healthcare
Amy has been a registered nurse for five years, the majority of which she has spent working in Laurel, Mississippi. She has been a MedSurg night nurse for her entire career so far.
Last year, the pandemic turned the world upside down. After working courageously on the front lines of COVID-19 for nearly 12 months, Amy began feeling the early signs of burnout.
“I was losing my drive, and we’d seen a lot of death,” Amy said. “It was terrible. We were the patients’ nurses, family members, friends…we were their everything, because they didn’t have anyone. And you can’t be there for them like you want to be sometimes. It just wore me out.”
Amy spoke with an old friend from nursing school who recommended she try a change of pace with travel nursing, which brought her to GIFTED Healthcare.
“She said, ‘Do it girl, it is great! You can go from place to place and you never have to settle,’” Amy said.
Amy was a little nervous about working at a different facility – she said that she doesn’t like change – but was persuaded by travel nursing’s great pay rates, flexibility, and the opportunity for contract extensions. Soon she found an assignment nearby in Meridian, MS, where many of her friends worked.
“I took the step forward and applied, and I love it there,” she said enthusiastically. “Everybody there has been so great and helpful. I work with a great group.”
Night Shift Nursing
Amy has been a night shift nurse her entire career. She says she “wouldn’t have it any other way.”
She explained that night shift nurses must be prepared for a unique experience on the floor, much different than day shift nurses.
“People always say that during the night shift, patients sleep all night and you don’t do anything,” Amy laughed. “That is not true.”
Amy agrees that there may not be as much going on with patients at night, but this opens the door for more meaningful connections and experiences with patients. Plus, Amy says she does spend some of her time “chasing patients down the hall” when they decide to get out of bed unexpectedly.
“They do wake up, and you have to chase people down the hall,” she said. “ But you also have extra time to communicate, to connect, and to be there for them.”
In fact, Amy recently received an outstanding letter of recommendation from one of her patients for her exceptional care and ability to connect.
Daisy Award Nomination
One of Amy’s patients nominated her for a Daisy Award, an honor given by The Daisy Foundation to nurses who provide exceptional care and exceed expectations. Sadly, travel nurses cannot qualify for Daisy Awards, but GIFTED believes Amy deserves to be recognized for this great achievement.
The patient who nominated Amy had been admitted for a collapsed lung, and he and his wife were very nervous about his recovery. Amy said that each night, when her patient’s visitors went home, it was up to her to calm his worries and encourage him to stay positive.
“It’s a time you have to sit and talk,” Amy said. “I kept telling him to think about ‘when’ he recovers, not ‘if’ he recovers.”
Amy’s patient recalled her experience with her in a letter: “I was treated by a plethora of doctors, nurses, techs, respiratory therapists, etc. While they were all special in their own unique ways, one specific night shift nurse went above and beyond to quell my anxiety and provide the most stellar treatment I have ever received.”
What a review!
The Ideal Nurse
Whenever we interview an RN, we always ask them to describe the qualities of the ideal nurse. Each answer is unique and fascinating, and often shows how thoughtful, compassionate, and conscientious all nurses must be to do their jobs well.
Amy’s vision of the ideal nurse is someone who is highly accountable for their patients’ wellbeing, who is kind, and who is willing to go above and beyond to provide excellent care:
“Someone who is kind, caring, and honest. Somebody who feels like each of their patients is the only patient in the hospital. For example, I treat every one of my patients like they are my own grandmother. Nobody wants to be at the hospital, and nobody wants to be sick. You have to remember that, and make each one of them feel special.”
What’s Next for Amy?
When we asked Amy about the future, she said that she loves her current facility and wants to work there are long as they’d like her to.
“I’d like to go back to school and get my bachelor’s degree,” Amy said. “But right now, I’m really happy where I am.”
We are honored that Amy Benefield is a GIFTED nurse, and there will always be a place for her in the GIFTED family!
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