This week Caring Senior Service honors Karen Mae, a caregiver in our Caring Senior Service of San Diego office. In this interview, Karen explains how caring for seniors has served as an inspiration to her as she completes nursing school.
Can you tell a little bit about yourself?
I am 25. I was born in the Philippines but I've been in San Diego since I was 8.
How long have you been a caregiver?
Since 2011 when I got my CNA license.
How long have you been with Caring Senior Service?
"...I love doing
what I do..."
What inspired you to become a caregiver?
While I was going to school I wanted to continue working with people, especially with my CNA license. I knew working at the hospital was a little hard with my school schedule, and my friend was telling me there was a job opening with Caring Senior Service. She told me that it would be a caregiving opportunity. So I decided to apply, and I ended up falling in love with it. I’ve been a caregiver ever since.
Are there any significant challenges you had to overcome to get to where you are now?
The main challenge for me was school and work at the same time. It was just difficult to manage my time and try to find time to still study and then still give 100% on the job. I would love to work more hours, especially with the people that I’m caring for. I would love to work more hours with them, but since I’m going to school it’s just a little difficult. That would be one of the main challenges and trying to adapt to different cultures. Some of the patients I take care of, their cultures are different from mine so trying to adapt to those cultures and trying to understand them as well is another challenge. Learning about the cultures is both a challenge but yet very enlightening and a good learning experience.
What has been your favorite story/experience since working with Caring Senior Service?
I think one of my favorite stories to tell that stuck with me is that I was going to school to become a nurse but wasn’t accepted into the program so I went a different path. I studied gerontology and I was just with a patient and she was just like “You are such a great nurse. You have the compassion for the job” and I had to remind her “I’m not a nurse” and she said “Why not?” and she goes “You should become one because compassion is one of the things most nurses lack nowadays and you have it.” … I told her “I don’t think I can… because I didn’t get into the program.” And she told me “You should still try because you would become a great one.” She was one of the reasons that made me apply to a nursing program and try again. I guess you could say she’s one of my inspirations. … So I went back to school (to become a nurse). … That story I told you is the strongest one. Also being able to interact with some of the patients I care for and just talking with them and getting to know their stories and the path they’ve been through makes me reaffirm why I love doing what I do and why I love my job and being with them.\
What is the most rewarding thing about being a caregiver?
Most rewarding thing is at the end of the day just that “thank you” thank you for being here. The thank you of “You actually help a lot” is very rewarding at the end of the day. Today, I just got done with a client and she was like “You don’t realize how much you help me out” and it’s really a lot. She’s just very, very thankful. … It confirms oh you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
What is the most challenging thing about being a caregiver?
I had one client that I loved working with but something happened where the cultures didn’t mix well together. And then having a female caregiver care for a male patient, that one was challenging just because the wife was just not trusting. Even though I was not doing anything wrong, she was there at home when I was providing the care. I think that one was challenging.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to become a caregiver?
Love what you do and be in it for the right reasons. Have the heart to actually want to care for someone. If you don’t have the heart for it you’re not going to love your job and it’s going to show in your work.
Everyone here at Caring Senior Service National Headquarters would like to thank Karen and officially recognize her for the service she provides to Caring Senior Service of San Diego and the seniors in her community. Karen we hope you enjoy the Acer Chromebook Laptop we sent you, its our way of saying thank you as we celebrate 25 years of helping seniors!