Written by Lisa Velasquez, RN, BSN, Administrator, BrightStar Care Lubbock
Monica Garrett-Hughes has been a nurse with BrightStar since 2013. She is a Registered Nurse with her BSN and holds her Teacher Certification for the State of Texas. She has more than 30 years experience in healthcare and education.
Monica’s clinical background includes the areas of Newborn Nursery, Neonatal ICU, Patient Education, and Home Health. She enjoys teaching and has taught Practical Nursing and Health Science for a total of nine years, working to prepare students for entry-level positions in the healthcare industry. Being a nurse and an educator has consistently afforded her with opportunities to utilize and expand her professional skills while interacting with diverse populations of clients, students, and co-workers.
Monica’s nomination for Nurse of the Year Award stems from her background and ability to use that experience and education to improve the quality of life for her client Amanda and Amanda’s family.
Monica began working with Amanda in October 2013. She was Monica’s first patient with BrightStar and was a very difficult case. Monica remembers her first days with Amanda as “rough” to say the least. Amanda was a challenge unlike any Monica had ever faced before, but she knew she could make a difference in that home. She was motivated.
When Monica first started working with Amanda, she had almost zero experience in actually caring for someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the myriad of other issues Amanda dealt with in her daily life. Monica quickly realized that a knowledge deficit existed, not just on her part, but with Amanda’s parents, teachers, and others in her life. Monica studied her new patient to determine what she could do to help her find balance in her behaviors and communication.
Monica spent hours and hours reading articles and watching videos related to Autism. She contacted numerous potential resources seeking assistance in helping Amanda. In the end, Monica found Amanda to be the best teacher. Monica learned to pay attention to Amanda’s cues to identify her needs. To help Amanda, Monica needed to understand her and what she needed in order to help her feel comfortable with others. As she learned more about Amanda, she was able to apply her research, observations, and ideas into her time with her.
Monica decided to simultaneously channel Mary Poppins, Anne Sullivan, and Florence Nightingale to implement a regimented schedule and daily lessons in which she was able to communicate expectations and immediately redirect Amanda’s behaviors when needed. In addition to working with Amanda, Monica shared what she learned with Amanda’s family and teachers. Monica’s teaching background was very helpful in communicating with Amanda’s teachers and finding ways to work together to help her.
Monica’s work with Amanda has been remarkable. She shares her knowledge with other nurses about how to communicate and interact with children with Autism and special needs. Amanda and her family have experienced improvements in many aspects of their lives due to the Monica’s compassion, drive, and knowledge sharing. Amanda’s teachers have also expressed the improvements they have seen in Amanda’s behavior and utilize the techniques Monica has implemented for discipline at school.
Monica’s education, skill set, drive, and perseverance have made an incredible impact on Amanda and her family. Monica is intelligent and loves to learn. She has found joy in sharing her knowledge and experiences with others. For these reasons, she is highly respected at our agency. We enthusiastically nominate Monica Garrett-Hughes for the Nurse of the Year Award and wholeheartedly believe her to be a deserving recipient.