Jessica Menard remembers very clearly the moment she decided to become a nurse, and not a lawyer.
When she was young, her Babci—the Polish word for “grandmother”—was in and out of the hospital. When the time came for Jessica to say goodbye, she knew what she was meant to do with her life.
“As a child, hospitals terrified me, but that began to change while spending time with my Babci,” Jessica says. “Seeing her ill and slipping away from me while feeling so helpless really changed my perspective, and I knew then that healthcare was my true calling.”
“To care for someone and to help ease their pain, especially during their last moments in life—it’s such important work. I knew it’s what I wanted to do and where I needed to be.”
Jessica enrolled in nursing school shortly after her grandmother passed away. She previously worked in urgent care, and the day-to-day was often challenging due to the pandemic. There were moments of not knowing if there would be enough personal protective equipment or COVID tests. Knowing that her patients were scared, Jessica did her best to hold it together for them so they could navigate the pandemic together. “I thought I was tough since I had prior experience in urgent care medicine and had seen quite my fair share of trauma, but this was something I never imagined, and it was hard to admit that I was scared,” she says.
Jessica joined CCA in September 2020 as a community advanced practice clinician. Compared to her previous experience in urgent care, Jessica says she was blown away by the company’s response and approach to care. “Members were being cared for throughout the pandemic, their needs were being met, and staff were adapting to new ways of delivering care, all in such a graceful manner,” she says.
“CCA has kept the needs of our members at the forefront. During this challenging time, I cannot imagine working in a more special place.”
One of the things Jessica likes best about working at CCA is the teamwork.
Jessica recently worked with a member who had diabetes and who was frequently going to the emergency room (ER). Jessica and her team tried their best to help her get her diabetes under control. The member’s RN, health outreach worker, nurse manager, and the diabetes manager all came together to assist her in the community. This level of support and attention eventually helped the member better manage her diabetes and lessen the number of trips to the ER.
“This experience helped me realize that teamwork and collaboration is so important. It takes a village and I am so thankful to have this team with me every day,” Jessica says.
“The ability to make a difference in someone’s life is the most rewarding part of being a nurse. Even if it’s the smallest difference, if my patients are taken care of and they feel supported, then it’s worth everything.”
Although the pandemic has made it difficult to cope with job stress, Jessica is encouraged by knowing the people she cares about are doing OK. She keeps up with her family through phone and video calls and spends time with her husband and dogs. When the weather is warm, she enjoys spending time outside and goes skiing in the cooler months. But when it is time to go to work and interact with members and her team at CCA, Jessica strives to make their day better.
“Each day when I come to work, I try to remain positive, and my goal is to put a smile on my coworkers and patients’ faces.”