This week is National Nurses Week, a time when the whole United States offers a hearty thank-you to the amazing people who provide care to us whenever we can’t. In celebration of the 200-plus nurses who serve the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida, we’re highlighting some of our dedicated team members who care for our residents.
Today, we are especially proud to highlight our nurses who were able to become Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses with the support of our Tuition Reimbursement program and our Employee Scholarship Funds, part of the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation. As a not-for-profit organization, these funds are provided by our generous residents and friends who want to see our team members succeed.
National Nurses Week: Read a personal letter of thanks from COO Garry Hennis and an interview with Kim Pagana, director of nursing at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek.
“This is a very rewarding job – really, I don’t even think of it as my job. It’s so rewarding to me,” said Louis Lester, a nurse at Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg. Lester is an Army veteran who served for 20 years in combat roles, before deciding that he wanted to heal people and provide support. “I went into nursing as a change of pace from my duties as a soldier. I became a [Licensed Practical Nurse] in 2013, and graduated with distinguished honors from Kaiser College. I fell in love with it and I’ve been doing nursing ever since,” he said.
Lester expects to complete his Registered Nurse degree in December 2018, with assistance from the Virginia Baxter Scholarship at Westminster Shores. “I’ve been blessed to have the support of the residents to pursue my degree. I say thank you all the time and let them know how appreciative I am of it.”
Another nurse, Kyle Budzisz, said that he had always wanted to become a nurse, and receiving a scholarship helped make his dreams possible. Budzisz, who is originally from Wisconsin, became a CNA because Wisconsin required it before he could go to nursing school. “Once I became a CNA and got into the field, started to see how things operate, I was really struck by how much I wanted to be able to continue to do it,” Budzisz said.
“What I like about working at Westminster Winter Park is the interaction that I get with the residents,” Budzsiz said. “They stay around, and you really get to know them – almost like family. You can build connections with them.”
Having the opportunity to grow one’s skills is something that Budzisz highlighted based on his own experience. “I have had a lot of co-workers consider getting their RN!” he said. “You should always try to keep moving forward. For a lot of CNAs, that is becoming a nurse. For an LPN, that’s becoming an RN. It’s a wonderful opportunity to become better at your work.”
To Lester, the nurse at Westminster Shores, being able to apply for a scholarship to help pay for school sets Westminster communities apart from a lot of other places he’s worked. “The scholarship funds are a wonderful benefit, and that’s one of the things I tell other people about why they should work for Westminster. Other companies offer tuition reimbursement, but only Westminster will give you a scholarship,” Lester said.
Westminster Communities of Florida is committed to providing all of our employees with the opportunity to advance and to find a bright future in the career of their choice.
Throughout this week, we’ll be learning more about our nurses and why they love serving the Westminster Communities of Florida Mission. Are you interested in joining the Westminster team? Find out more — go to www.WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/careers!