“When I was little, I always remember telling my mom and dad that I wanted to be a missionary,” said Marilyn Grant, central supply director at Life Care Center of Puyallup, Washington.
“Growing up, I did a lot of activities with UNICEF through my youth group. So, in my mind, I thought being a missionary meant that I would work in a different country. Now, I know that mission work isn’t just working in another country. I shared that story with one of our administrators once, and she looked at me and said, ‘Marilyn, every day you come here, you are being a missionary.’ That has always stuck with me.”
Marilyn has worked at Life Care Center of Puyallup for 31 years and has worn many different hats during her time at the facility. Out of all the roles she’s filled, she believes her most important role is her first job working as a CNA because it gave her hands-on experience caring for patients and opportunities to explore the medical field and figure out which direction she wanted her career to take.
“I moved around quite a bit,” said Marilyn. “First, I was a restorative aide for a while. Then, I was a shower aide and managed staffing. Now, for the last 12 years or more, I’ve done central supply.”
She kickstarted her medical career by taking a certified nursing assistant course offered at Life Care Center of Puyallup in 1989, and she discovered her passion and talent to care for patients.
“I read the ad in the paper that you could come here and go to the CNA class, and I decided to check it out,” said Marilyn. “It didn’t cost anything at the time, and if you wanted to continue working for Life Care after the class, you could. The other part of it was that I was a single mom with three kids, and I just wanted to make my life better for myself and to show my kids you have to work hard to have things in life.”
Aside from the knowledge she gained from the CNA course, Marilyn said the most important thing she received from the class was encouragement.
“When we got part of the way through with the class, some of it was kind of scary because I had never done something like take someone’s blood pressure before,” said Marilyn. “It was a huge accomplishment to get my CNA license, and have someone teach me what I needed to know so that when it came time for state boards, I could pass. There is always a lot of encouragement. At our building, every time a CNA course is offered, everyone working at the facility is very encouraging and welcoming to the CNA class. I try to encourage and share with them when they come into the building and tell them about when I worked as a CNA. They know that I have an enormous amount of respect for them and what they do because I know how hard they work.”
Marilyn also noted that starting her career as a CNA opened many doors of opportunity for her to work in different areas of the medical field.
“Every opportunity I had, I tried to take advantage of it here because I knew I would learn more and have more experience,” said Marilyn. “I received a lot of good support from people at the facility that gave me a chance and believed in me, a lot of times when I didn’t really believe in myself.”
Even though Marilyn has worked in various roles at the facility, she has always made interacting with the residents and patients a top priority.
“Caring about the residents and the people that I work with is my favorite part of my job,” said Marilyn. “I’ve always been really close with our residents, no matter what position I went into. Every day, I am up and down the halls with supplies, and I just make sure that I say hi to all of them and ask them if they need anything. Every day that I come here, I just know in my mind that if I can make one person smile or laugh, then I’ve done my job for the day.”
For Marilyn, caring for patients is the easiest part of her job, even though at times it can be emotionally challenging.
“When I first started in my CNA class and we did clinicals on the floor, it was really hard for me not to get close to the patients because of the type of person I am. There’s always that one person that reminds you of your dad or your grandma in some way. A few years back, I actually had to have my mother-in-law here. I felt really good about where she was because everyone – even the new CNAs – was just so good with her.”
Working at Life Care Center of Puyallup became more than just a job for Marilyn. It became a home away from home for her family.
“Because I was single and my family is out-of-state, my kids sort of grew up at the facility,” said Marilyn. “My son, who started working here as a teenager, was 5 when I got my job here. We spent most of our holidays here with the residents, and the people here were like family. My son got his first job here as a dishwasher, and then later took the CNA course and worked here as a CNA, too.”
For Marilyn, it was fulfilling to discover that she didn’t have to move overseas to live out her lifelong dream of becoming a missionary. She could be a missionary in her own back yard. Life Care Center of Puyallup became the mission field to which she dedicated her work and her heart.
“I would just really encourage people if they are interested in the nursing field to start out in the CNA class,” said Marilyn. “There are so many opportunities when you do that, and it’s just amazing where you can go from starting there. There’s just so much in the medical field, and the class is such a great opportunity. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am right now if it wasn’t for that CNA class.”
For more information about how you can pursue a career as a CNA, locate your local Life Care center at https://lifecarecareers.com/locations and ask an associate to help find a class near you.