In honor of Veteran’s Day we would like to share a Spotlight Q&A on our High Peaks Hospice RN Kathy McNulty. Her dedication and service is quite impressive and we are grateful to have her on our team.
What can you share about your service? What location(s), branch, position?
“I have been an RN for 44 years (yikes, I never added it up before) and went into the Army straight out of nursing school. I joined with the goal of becoming an Adult Nurse Practitioner, which I did after 3 years. I worked as an ANP for 10 years in internal medicine and cardiology clinics, taught Diabetes education classes and quit smoking classes, then worked in administration as a Head Nurse and Nurse educator. I retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2001.”
“My assignments took me from Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver, Co where I learned to ski and worked in an ICU to Ft Ord, to CA where I lived on the beach and went to NP school. After that I was assigned to Madigan Army Medical where I worked as an NP, followed by Yongsan Army Base in Seoul, South Korea, where I was the Chief Nurse of a dispensary in Taegu, managing all the outpatient services and ambulance crew and dabbling as an NP. My last active duty assignment was at Ft. Devens in Massachusetts, again working as an NP. This is where I met my active duty husband, started our family and transferred to the reserves. I have moved 15 times since I started my military career with our last move being here to Queensbury in 2014.”
What led you to become a hospice RN?
“As a new BSN graduate nurse, working at an Extended Care Facility in Syracuse, NY (my home town), I was the nurse on duty when a Catholic nun and also a lay woman both passed. The Sister died most peacefully, while the other woman died very fearful and agitated. I knew then that someday I would get into hospice nursing.”
How long have you worked in hospice and what roles have you held?
” I have done hospice nursing for 25 years in some form or another (with the occasional break for family or when stationed overseas with my husband). I worked as an on-call nurse, a case manager, a Clinical Supervisor for Capital Caring (one of the largest hospices in the US), managing 70+ patients and staff and now as a per diem RN. Capital Caring is a huge organization with over 10 offices in the DC metropolitan area with multiple other for profit and not for profit hospices to compete with.”
What are some of the things that are different about High Peaks Hospice than the Washington DC Hospice you previously worked at?
“High Peaks Hospice, being so small, has a much more warm and fuzzy atmosphere and a spirit of collaboration that I think sets it apart from the other hospices I’ve been a part of. My favorite part of working as a hospice nurse is the interaction with patients and families, helping them to find peace in their situation, teaching and guiding them along the way and bringing a smile to their faces over even the simplest joy, like holding their loved ones hands and letting them know that they indeed are giving their loved one the greatest gift, that of themselves caring for another.”
In what ways did your service shape your career path or your life in general?
“My military service has had an incredible impact on who I am; not only my love for country and all things patriotic, but my ability to practice independently, while still adhering to guidelines and principles. The military has also taught me flexibility, which I feel is so critical to adapting to all the changes that life throws at us.”
Is there any advice you wish to share with the team about working with veteran patients and families?
“My only word of advice when working with veterans and their families is really no different than what we do every day with all our patients: thank them for their service, listen to their stories, and honor them for who they are.”
What is your favorite part of the work you do?
“I find hospice work tremendously rewarding as we assist our dying patients to live their final days to the fullest, making each moment count and ensuring their comfort, dignity, peace and even help them find joy as they pass from this life to the next.”
“I am honored to be a part of such an incredible team of professionals here at High Peaks Hospice and am excited for the growth that is happening and the increased acceptance of hospice that we are now beginning to see in this community.”
From all of us here at High Peaks Hospice, Thank you Kathy for your service to our country and for your service to our organization. Your contribution means so much to us and our community.