Part three of our week-long series highlighting some of the amazing nurses of the Nurse Alliance of SEIU Pennsylvania.
Within minutes of meeting Alana Bennett, LPN, the phrase that comes to mind most readily is “full of life.”
That obvious energy and enthusiasm serves her well in her assignment at Care Pavilion.
“I work on what we call a ‘step-up unit,’ the short-stay rehabilitation unit,” she explained. “So basically the hospital unit of the facility.”
While Alana moves through her day in the step-up unit with the passion of a person who has found her calling, her path to nursing was a more practical one for a woman with a young family.
“It’s kind of funny,” she said. “I chose nursing as a career because I knew that would always afford me a good job. That’s originally why.”
Nowadays it’s a different story.
“Being here now,” Alana said. “I just find it overall rewarding and fulfilling. Meeting people, seeing people go from being really ill to being healed, helping folks – it’s just overall rewarding.”
Alana’s young family is now grown— two kids off at college — and even growing. She’s currently planning a July wedding with her fiancé. Despite the busy personal life, she still pours a lot of energy into her role as a caregiver. But it’s clearly a role that gives back.
Despite the busy personal life, she pours a lot of energy into her role as a caregiver. But it’s clearly a role that gives back.
“Just knowing you make that difference to somebody, to me that’s an amazing feeling,” Alana said. “It’s funny, because it also humbles you. You get to see things from a different standpoint. When you hear people’s stories and see their struggles, it brings that perspective back to you.”
Making that connection with her patients and residents is what she loves most about the job. Alana noted that most people go through their day being guarded with everyone, being careful about what they share and with whom. That dynamic can go out the window in a healthcare setting.
“When you’re with a patient and you’re one-on-one there’s a lot of trust there,” Alana notes. “I’ve had residents and patients who will chit chat with me and laugh and joke and then someone new will come in the room and suddenly mum’s the word.”
While she loves the connections she makes, Alana points out that there are some not-so-great aspects of her work. One of them is universal.
“Not enough time in the day,” she complained. “You have patients, you have their specific needs and we tend to get task oriented — just trying to get those tasks accomplished. But are we really fulfilling all their needs? That extra few minutes just to chat or say ‘Oh that’s really nice!’ might really make a difference in someone’s life.”
Outside of the step-up unit, Alana has another passion — politics.
“I get very passionate about politics,” she said. “It’s kind of ironic — nursing brought me to that. I’ve always liked politics, but just as a spectator sport. But because of nursing I realized how everything is connected to politics.”
The reality of how politics affects our everyday lives is what drives Alana to get involved in canvassing and phone banking for candidates she supports and even knocking on doors to educate voters about important community issues.
She’ll put her political passion into practice again on Tuesday, May 10 when she joins the Nurse Alliance and other caregivers in the Capitol in Harrisburg. Hundreds of supporters will be gathered for a day of action to call for safer staffing and passage of “the Hospital Nursing Staff Report Card Act,” a bill to legislate transparency in nurse staffing in Pennsylvania.
Alana’s zeal for politics is almost matched by her enthusiasm for the union.
“All nurses should be union nurses!” she proclaimed. “I’m not just saying that being a union member. I’m saying that because of the nature of the job. We need that backup. Just like we have our patient’s back. We are all patients’ advocates, but we need somebody to be our advocate. It’s a rough job. We definitely need backup.”
And if there’s someone you would want to have your back, it’s Alana Bennett, LPN.