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Classmates who became co-workers will soon be registered nurses

A simple conversation between two classmates in a microbiology course has multiplied and grown over time.

“I started here because of Ms. Bessie,” Chanda Gerard said about her early visits with Bessie Boese. “I was complaining about the last long-term care place where I worked. Bessie said, ‘You should come to Presbyterian Manor — it’s great.’”

Chanda made the move in December, and said she is happy with her new workplace — and her friendship with Bessie. Both will soon take the state boards to advance from licensed practical nurses to registered nurses, a move that will allow them both to do more of the work they love.

Bessie, who has been with Presbyterian Manor since 2005, said her experience made it easy to convince Chanda to change workplaces and advance their careers together.

“It’s a totally family environment,” Bessie said. “And they encourage furthering education and advancement. They create a lot of opportunities for that. They’re so encouraging and it makes it so familial.”

Chanda agreed. She said she has felt supported and encouraged every step of the way, both in her work and in advancing her education.

“It’s like a big family. I really like how everyone is super close to each other,” she said. “It’s not like you’re at work. It’s like you’re with friends. It’s a good atmosphere, with no drama and a good rapport with residents. I’m going to stay here.”

Additionally, Chanda said that everyone, across all departments, speak on the same level and hold resident care above all else.

“You feel comfortable going to whomever you need to talk to about anything,” she said. “There’s an open-door policy to address any issues.”

Both Bessie and Chanda said they appreciated the support and flexibility they experienced as they navigated schedules filled with work, school and family.

“They work so well with my schedule,” said Chanda, who has three children ages 10, 7 and 20 months. “They accommodate whatever I need to get through school.”

“I have four kids — 14, 11, 8, 6 — so that’s been a nightmare for my schedule,” Bessie said. “My husband has been very supportive, and Presbyterian Manor worked with me on the schedule.”

Once they’ve completed their exams, Bessie and Chanda will continue their work at the Manor. Earning the title of RN will allow them to pick up more duties and provide a higher level of care to residents. Bessie, who helps manage Medicaid assessments, will be able to take a larger role in that work, and Chanda is eager to elevate her involvement with resident care.

From that early conversation to working together and now advancing their careers, both women are happy to be part of the Presbyterian Manor family.

“I knew she’d love (working here) as much I did,” Bessie said. “We strive every day to reflect our values in our work. It makes me proud to be here.”

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