Our “Together as One” series spotlights nurses, physicians, pharmacists and others who positively impact the lives of hospice patients and their families every day. Through the dedicated and compassionate work of these inspiring professionals, patients receive the high-quality care and attentive consideration they deserve. Together with innovative and responsive hospice partners, they create the network of support so essential to hospice care. We invite you to meet the people behind the mission—and see what one can do.
Pam Clemit, RN, Case Manager
Sage Hospice and Palliative Care
What inspired you to become a nurse?
My mom. As long as I could remember, my mom was a nurse. She was able to care for her family full time when we were young and went to work part time when we got older. She always loved her work and was able to balance her work and her family. I always felt like I wanted to care for people. In my youth, I would visit my elderly grandparents. It was because of those experiences I knew—that someday—I would be working with that population. I fell in love with geriatrics and realized that was to be my specialty. When I was in kindergarten, when my class was asked to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, I drew a picture of a nurse. I have it framed in my den!
How did you come to work in hospice specifically?
My mother-in-law had a chronic disease. We ended up caring for her in our home and placed her on hospice. It was such a labor of love caring for her at the end of her life. The hospice team she had was so caring and attentive, to both her and all her family. I saw the type of care they provided and was inspired. I wanted to be a part of that type of nursing. Several months after she passed, I became a hospice nurse.
What has been your favorite or proudest moment as a nurse?
My most memorable moment as a nurse happened when I was just out of nursing school a few months. My next-door neighbor’s husband came to my door excitedly and said, “My wife is having a baby!” I went to see for myself and she was already heavily into labor. I had the husband go back to my house to call 911 because they didn’t have a phone. It seemed like he was gone a long time. The woman pushed a few times and the baby was coming! I heard the sirens, but, before the fire department arrived, I delivered a beautiful, healthy little baby boy! Wow, what a day that was!
In what ways (if any) is nursing different from what you expected when you first started?
Nursing is not so different, but better than I ever imagined. I have been blessed with a variety of jobs in the nursing field, and the opportunity to also stay at home for a time and raise our family. There are so many options and opportunities in nursing.
Do you have any advice for someone considering a career in hospice?
Hospice nursing is not just a job, it’s a calling. We don’t do it for a paycheck, we do it because we love the work. The work is so meaningful and fulfilling. It’s the epitome of holistic nursing, as we care for the whole person. There is freedom and independence in caring for patients in their own homes, but it is definitely a team effort. You may work alone, but you are supported by a whole team working toward the same goals for your patients. It truly is a very rewarding career choice.
How do you keep from getting overwhelmed in your busy day-to-day?
I make a point to start each day with some quiet time and personal devotions. It helps to start each day grounded and guided. It’s importance to have balance, especially in this line of work. I don’t always have it, but I strive for it. I enjoy hiking weekly with my dog, volunteering at church and spending time with my family. It’s also important to know that you aren’t alone in your everyday. Reaching out to your team members and administrators to help process and problem solve—it makes a big difference.
Have there been any patients or families that have been particularly memorable? How so?
There are many memorable patients and families. In this line of work, you become intimately involved with their lives. You prepare them the best that you can and involve your entire team in the process. It’s wonderful to hear, “It was a beautiful moment, she/he passed so peacefully,” from a family when their loved one passed. When a very difficult time for a family is turned into a meaningful and special time, and has grown them closer together, that is the goal of hospice care.
Has your work influenced how you think about death? In what ways?
Death is a natural part of life. I have become more comfortable with death and its process and preparing patients and families. It’s not a bad thing. It is very meaningful helping patients and families know what to expect and helping them go through the process.