Sharon Falconer – Certified Nursing Assistant
The strength to do her job in the midst of cancer comes from Sharon Falconer’s great love for the residents at Good Samaritan Society – De Smet in De Smet, S.D. For her compassion, the Good Samaritan Society recognized Falconer as its 2011 Certified Nursing Assistant of the Year.
In February 2010, Falconer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but was told it was slow growing. Then, more than a year later, in March 2011, she found out she had throat cancer. The treatments were hard on her, but she is healing.
“A few of the residents know what I’ve been going through with my cancer and have been really concerned for my welfare and how I am doing,” says Falconer. “When I would come back on the weekends to help the residents with their meals, a big grin would show up on their faces. They were as glad to see me as I was to see them.”
Because of her throat cancer, Falconer has trouble speaking. In receiving the CNA award during the Good Samaritan Society’s Annual Meeting, her best friend and co-worker, Janelle Martens spoke on her behalf and read her acceptance speech.
Martens said life became a whirlwind for Falconer after her second cancer diagnosis. She immediately scheduled radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Co-workers put together a benefit and raised $10,000 to help with expenses. It was evident she was in financial need, said Martens. “But I think the greatest gift to Sharon was finding out how much everyone cared about her.”
Falconer says she’s fortunate to have a job she loves even though it might be stressful and challenging at times. “I wouldn’t want to work any other place,” she says. “Taking care of the residents and making life the best it can be for them is all I can ask for.”
As a certified nursing assistant, Falconer is committed to making life easier for residents. She takes time to listen to and remember their stories, and residents know they are important to her. Falconer makes an effort to know which resident, for example, likes soap operas, football, racing, reality shows or Lawrence Welk. She makes sure they are able to continue doing the things they enjoy by visiting with them about their interests.
Falconer is integral to the strong camaraderie between staff and residents, says Melissa Tordoff, administrator at the center. As a certified nursing assistant, she not only helps residents meet their daily needs, but she is there to help them meet their spiritual needs.
“Helping the residents with their activities and meeting their daily needs is my number one priority,” Falconer says. “Just to see the residents’ smiling faces and give them a big hug makes my day. We are a close and big family.”
Sharon has three children and four grandchildren.
Be part of a caregiving team
We're looking for people who want to be part of a team of caregivers. And caregivers aren't always just certified nursing assistants and registered nurses. They work in dietary, maintenance, administration... every aspect of our organization. Caregivers work to fulfill the most basic of human needs, the need to feel loved, valued and at peace with oneself. And there’s no better way to accomplish that than experiencing God’s love firsthand through the care of another person.
As a Good Samaritan Society staff member, you will work with some of the finest health-care workers in the long-term care industry and do meaningful work caring for people who need your help and support.
Good Samaritan Society centers offer numerous opportunities for employment in settings that range from home care to skilled nursing care. Whether you work in nursing, dietary, housekeeping or activities, you will be involved in some of the most meaningful work you can find.
Professional growth opportunities
Through a unique combination of video, online, self-study, mentoring and hands-on training and experience, employees have an opportunity to continue to grow in their careers with the Good Samaritan Society. Employees may select career training options in clinical and non-clinical tracks. These options may begin with basic nursing assistant training and include advanced nursing assistant training, licensed practical nursing and registered nursing degree programs, management certificate programs as well as advanced degrees in healthcare management and nursing. For more information about learning opportunities available to Good Samaritan Society employees, visit www.careerlattice.org.