In this Voices interview, our Senior Director of Implementation & Education, Karen Bergenholtz, RN, MSN, CRNP, sits down with Hospice News to learn about the top challenges facing hospice leaders and nurses in the year ahead and what facilities are doing to overcome them. She also discusses the impact of the staffing crisis on hospice today and what owners are doing to navigate that crisis in 2022.
Hospice News: What career experiences do you most draw from in your role today?
Karen Bergenholtz: My early experience working in traditional health care areas like hospitals and home care has given me a broad understanding of the entire health care continuum. In addition, I’ve worked for a few smaller health care companies where I had the opportunity to wear multiple hats and develop different skill sets which I still use today.
From business development and training to onboarding clinicians, I love to work with leaders and their teams to help them meet their goals. I feel that my managerial and clinical expertise provide me with a unique skillset.
What do you believe are the top three challenges facing hospice nurses in the year ahead, regardless of their experience level?
Bergenholtz: The number one challenge today is the insufficient staffing levels. The pandemic has accelerated expected attrition in the entire nursing profession, including hospice. Supporting patient care with inadequate staffing puts even more pressure on the remaining nurses. Second, when hospices are able to bring on new staff, it’s often nurses who are new to hospice and often the nursing profession in general. This has burdened experienced staff with additional mentoring and onboarding while maintaining their current responsibilities and more.
Finally, all of us hospice nurses are continuing to deal with the personal demands and needs unearthed by the pandemic, especially caring for our families and our own wellbeing.