When Jessica Boardman is asked why she became a nurse, her answer is swift and clear, “I like to help people.” Acting on this instinct, Jessica joined the Dover Plains ambulance service as a young EMT volunteer and quickly discovered that she not only enjoyed offering help as a first responder but that she had a facility for the highly technical training it requires. Volunteering as an EMT in her home town of Dover, NY reinforced her love for helping people and led to her decision to enter the medical field. Despite a full-time job, she enrolled in nursing school and juggled both her career and education. “It took me four years to complete my associate’s degree, but I did it.”
After working four years as a nurse in an addiction recovery center, she felt compelled to try something different. “I found myself applying at Noble even though I had a negative experience in nursing school during my clinical rotation at a nursing home. Noble turned out to be completely different.” What started out as a tentative move has evolved into a meaningful career. Jessica explains, “It was something about the atmosphere, the team approach, the staff. It feels like family.”
“In the four years since I’ve been at Noble, I’ve been a charge nurse, supervisor, and nurse manager in Riga, Wagner, and Whitridge,” Jessica recounts. Currently, she’s the nurse manager in Riga as well as Whitridge (where she provides memory care for residents living with cognitive challenges, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s).
Jessica finds gratification in all areas of her work, most especially in the special relationships she develops with Noble residents. “Whitridge is the most challenging and the most rewarding,” she reflects, “I’ve made special bonds with residents and that rolls over into the families, which is so rewarding. I’ve become close to them. The challenge is that dementia patients can’t tell you what’s wrong. They can’t explain their feelings. You need to watch, observe, and get to know them.” Jessica credits her team, particularly the CNAs who seem to have a special gift for intuiting residents’ needs.
At the other end of the spectrum are the short-term rehabilitation stays required after an injury or surgery. “In Wagner rehab, the challenge is to meet a person’s needs within their time at Noble and make sure they’re set to go.” Jessica enjoys helping people recover and return home but it can be hard to say goodbye. Sometimes, an injury or surgery brings people for another rehab stay and those old bonds are resurrected.
It’s simple for Jessica, “I do what I do because I love it.” That doesn’t mean the stress of the job, particularly during COVID, doesn’t affect her. “COVID has been really tough. Those early days of having to disrobe in my garage and jump into the shower before my seven-year-old son could hug me started to get to me.” Her response to stress has been a healthy one. “I’ve started to take better care of myself. I’m playing golf and kayaking.”
By taking care of herself, Jessica is even better equipped to help others which, of course, is what Jessica is all about.