Photo: TNMHO education committee volunteers planning the 2020 annual conference. We are so fortunate to have their combined 390+ years of hospice experience guiding our selection of conference sessions and speakers.
Engage. Inspire. Lead.
Want to up your game as a hospice professional? Strengthen your knowledge of hospice care and create connections in the field? Three TNMHO volunteers offer insight on what it means to be part of the bigger picture.
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“I like to be involved, and at the forefront of the hospice world.”
“I got involved with TNMHO years ago,” Kathy Ventre recalls, “just by attending conferences. Later I served two terms on the board of directors. Now I chair the education committee and volunteer to help out at conferences.”
Ventre loves challenging herself and keeping current in the hospice world.
“I have a thirst for knowledge and learning” she says.
Ventre underscores the value of making connections with others in the hospice world. She notes that exposure to how other organizations are delivering quality care helps to deepen personal understanding of regulations, which helps improve agency standards overall.
“If you just stay in your agency, in your own cocoon, you aren’t always aware of what’s going on in the broader world of hospice. Being involved at the state level expands your hospice world,” she observes.
Sharing experiences and hospice notes with colleagues has had other unexpected benefits as well, in the form of job offers.
“I love to network. You meet people who know other people, who know somebody, and they need somebody, and your contact info gets passed along. I’ve never had to send a resume for a job – people have reached out to me with opportunities.”
When asked about the time constraints for busy hospice professionals, and working volunteer efforts into her schedule, Ventre suggests a practical, common sense approach: “Being involved doesn’t consume my whole world, but I stay active in the organization – I strive for balance.”
Kathy Ventre is a 25-year veteran in the world of hospice. Trained as a nurse, she excelled at administration and rose to a VP position in a national organization with more than a hundred offices across the country. She’s been in hospice consulting for 10 years, involved with education, training for hospice clinicians, guiding startups – surveys, due diligence, quality assurance, and so on.
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“Going to the conference is about community – it’s connecting with other people who are passionate about hospice.”
Danny Mack’s first experience with TNMHO came through attending an annual conference. The hospice administrator encouraged staff to attend, so he went. He submitted a proposal to speak at the Santa Fe conference the following year. The presentation went well. Unbeknownst to Mack, he had been nominated for Bereavement Coordinator of the Year, and recognized with the award at the same conference. Then the next year in Houston, he presented again.
Getting to know other chaplains in the hospice field paved the way for two important developments: close, respected colleagues and a committee. A group of chaplains saw the need for training and discipline guidelines, and formed TNMHO’s first chaplain committee. The small band of committed chaplains traveled the state, taking the training show on the road, so to speak. The experience developed friendships with fellow committee members and presenters that are still going strong today.
Mack observes that being involved over the years has yielded a return on investment that goes beyond personal satisfaction. The training and interaction with colleagues across disciplines impacts his day-to-day work environment.
“Staying active at the state level has improved the education and awareness of our whole organization.”
When asked what makes the difference in whether or not a hospice professional choose to be involved, Mack gives a nod to organizational leadership. “It’s the administrators and directors who encourage staff to participate that makes the difference. If they support it, staff will want to be involved. It’s a win-win for the individual and the organization.”
“In the hospice world there is a significant challenge when it comes to competition between hospices,“ he notes. “They don’t like to share with one another, and to a certain extent that is understandable. At the same time, though, we should not lose sight of the bigger picture: hospice is a movement. TNMHO keeps the heart of the movement beating strong, even as hospice care continues evolving as a business enterprise.”
This is at the core of why Mack stays involved. “I am 100% bought in to the hospice movement,” he says. “I saw the need, I continue to see the need, and the need has not diminished.”
“Going to the conference is about community – it’s connecting with other people who are passionate about hospice. The person actually doing hospice work sees it as more of a movement than a business…otherwise they tend to not do it for very long.”
Danny Mack is a chaplain with Christian Care Hospice in North Texas. He has been active in the hospice community for 25 years. and has garnered, well…a bit of a following, actually. And that’s OK. He doesn’t mind being a rockstar for hospice. (If you’ve seen him in action, you get it.)
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“I did little volunteer jobs at first, and quickly began to develop amazing friendships with other hospice professionals.”
Sandi Hebley began working in the hospice field in 1988. She was a bit tentative about volunteering with TNMHO, but eventually it was the people that drew her in.
“It was a good while before I got involved at the state level. I just attended conferences for a while before I began volunteering – smaller volunteer jobs at first, and quickly began developing amazing friendships with other hospice professionals. This peer group became like family to me, and that was an encouragement to stay involved.”
Besides the friendships and human connection, Hebley saw over time how interaction with others in the field informed her work and perspective as a hospice professional.
“Each hospice organization develops its own way of doing things, and it is truly valuable to learn how other organizations approach the same issues or challenges,” she says. “We can all improve our processes by learning from each other.”
“I not only get official education at the conferences and via webinars, but there is also tremendous value in learning just from hanging out with other hospice folks.”
And then there is the personal payoff of engaging a network of like-minded professionals. Sandi recalls receiving a phone call from her husband while she was at a conference, just to touch base. She explained that she was in the hotel bar visiting with some chaplain friends, to which he chuckled, “Oh, there has to be a joke there: A nurse and three chaplains go into a bar…”
“It’s fun to be with others where we can share our sometimes ‘gallows humor’ without offending anyone,” Hebley observes. “Being able to talk with others about how much my work means to me, knowing they understand and share my passion, it’s rejuvenating.”
To anyone who is debating whether or not to get more involved, Hebley has this to share: “If I hadn’t started volunteering, I probably never would have found my friends – Larry, Brandie and Max!”
Sandi Hebley, RN, CHPN, LMSW is hospice nurse educator. She has been active in the Hospice and Palliative Nurse Association for more than two decades.
So…come to a conference. Lead a session. Join a committee. Help out at the registration table. Whatever form or flavor of being involved works for you, go for it.
We have it on good authority that you will be glad you did.
Ready to engage the hospice community in a new way? Let us know that you want to be more involved at the state level, and let’s get started!
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