October 20

Shining a Spotlight on Nursing: Chapter Six

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

With 2020 designated as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Assembly, we continue to shine a spotlight on the registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants (C.N.A.s) at Gardant and the assisted living, supportive living and memory care communities Gardant manages.

Today, our focus is on Brenda Barger, a certified nursing assistant at Heritage Woods of Dwight, and Tammy Bonney, Nursing Supervisor at John Evans Supportive Living in Pekin, Illinois.

Brenda Barger, C.N.A.

What sparked you desire to become a C.N.A.?

I was taking care of my mother’s boyfriend.

What do you like best about being a C.N.A.?

I enjoy taking care of residents and seeing them smile. As a C.N.A., I like to encourage residents to do better and be their best.

What do you like best about working in assisted living?

I love working in assisted living because I can interact with residents. I enjoy listening to their stories and how life used to be. I enjoy going to work every day and getting to know everyone.

Who had the biggest impact on your life?

My Mother.

What motivates you each day?

A lot motivates me, but overall, I am self-motivated and am motivated by those around me.

What is your favorite memory as a C.N.A.?

My favorite memory happened right after I became a C.N.A. I was doing my first set of vitals and was shaking with nerves. The resident spoke up and said: “you can do this.”

What advice might you have for someone thinking about entering the field?

Please make sure you enjoy taking care of people and being around them. Being a C.N.A. is a fulfilling career; everyone should put their mind, body, and soul into it.

When you are not working, what may we find you doing?

On my time off, I spend a lot of time with my grandson, who is my pride and joy.


Tammy Bonney, R.N.

What sparked your desire to become a nursing supervisor?

I had several years of nursing management experience in long-term care and wanted a change. I wanted to continue in a management role in a less regulated and less stressful setting.

What do you like best about being a nursing supervisor?

I like being able to spend more time with residents and the atmosphere that we have. In the long-term care nursing home setting, I always felt like I was drowning and never able to feel accomplished or that I was making a difference. I also like having a very stable and long-standing C.N.A. staff and being able to get to know them on a personal as well as a professional level.

What do you like best about working in an assisted living community?

Having experience in a nursing home as well as home health, I feel this setting is the best of both worlds. I get to enjoy working with seniors in their own homes without having to travel all over the country to see them.

Who has had the biggest impact in your life?

My Dad. He was always my biggest cheerleader and taught me the value of hard work to gain what I wanted in my life. He was always supportive and willing to listen when I needed an ear or some advice. Even though he passed away in 2019, I know he is still watching, listening and lending a guiding hand whenever I need it.

What motivates you each day?

I am a very motivated person and always feel great when I can get tasks accomplished and done well. I enjoy being around other people, whether it is residents, their families, or the staff. I have always been a “people person.” Plus, I have to throw in that a part of my motivation is monetary. Just being honest. I enjoy being able to be financially secure and being able to have enough to “play” when I have time off.

What is your favorite memory as a staff nurse?

I can honestly say I can’t pinpoint one memory as favorite. I think what I would consider a “favorite memory” is a combination of all the things residents say that really throws you off guard in a very human way. Just when you think you have heard or seen it all, someone does something new.

What advice might you have for someone thinking about getting into the field?

I think my best advice is to be flexible. I have known nurses over my nursing career who would get upset when their day did not go as planned. It never goes as planned no matter how hard you try to have it all worked out. Someone or something will always change that. Be flexible, roll with it, and pick up tomorrow where you left off. Just smile and take life as it comes. You’ll be much less stressed. Also, don’t forget to enjoy life. It goes by way too fast too miss out on the fun stuff.

When you are not working, what may we find you doing?

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Scott, and our children – Tyler, 26, and Adam, 23 – and their significant others, whether it is working on the farm, boating, or riding out motorcycles. I love photography, and enjoy traveling whenever and wherever, visiting friends and family, and taking cool pictures.

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