November 20, 2019
What it's Like to be an EveryStep Hospice Team Director: Kimberly Endecott
Kimberly Endecott's path to the hospice field wasn't straight. In fact, it took several years and turns in her career before she landed at EveryStep Hospice over 15 years ago.
"You'd have to be blind not to see what was put together to put me on this path," notes Kimberly, now the director of the EveryStep Hospice team in Southeast Iowa.
Her journey to becoming team director began many years ago - before her career with EveryStep - when she was simply caring for one patient.
"I did not have a life-long dream to be a nurse or anything like that," Kimberly recalls. "I was caring for a woman in her home, and I found I was pretty good at that. Then I moved on to be an aide."
One day while working as a nursing assistant at a nursing facility, Kimberly went to report a patient’s condition change to the nurse. The nurses's reaction was rude and she treated her as if she knew nothing. Kimberly took that interaction and defied to make a change. She decided to go to school.
"That lit a fire under me," she says. "I thought, 'I'll be the nurse that doesn't do that to my CNA’s.'"
From there, Kimberly worked as a cardiac LPN and then as an RN at the dialysis unit and as well as PRN for the emergency room, day surgery, and endoscopy.
It was around this time that she first began to feel the pull toward hospice care.
"While I was working in dialysis, I had one of my friends there ask if I thought dialysis was my calling," Kimberly recalls. "I said, 'well, I don't know what my calling is.' At that very moment I had a vision in my head of the shape of a rainbow, lit up and it said three words, hospice, hospice, hospice."
Kim says she kind of ignored the sign, thinking that she didn't want to take care of people who were dying.
After two years in dialysis, Kim moved on to be an oncology nurse. During that time, the oncologist she worked for also worked as a director for hospice.
"I was learning about end of life, disease management. It was all prep work," she says.
While working as an oncology nurse, Kim got her first real taste of what hospice is all about when her father became a patient.
"I'll never forget my mom taking a big sigh and saying I can do this," Kimberly notes of her family's experience and how their hospice care team took care of the entire family.
A short time later, Kim began to get burnt out on oncology – not the care, but the longer commute she experienced after moving.
"I called a friend in the area and asked her to keep an eye open for any registered nursing jobs," Kimberly says. "She said there was a new hospice that had just started in Mount Pleasant and they were looking for a full-time registered nurse. I remember saying 'Okay, fine God, I'll apply.'"
She started just a few months later.
“I knew that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing," Kimberly says. "I knew it was a calling."
As time went on, Kimberly found herself becoming the go-to person for the hospice team. After 7 years working as a hospice RN, the director position opened. Kimberly applied, but someone else was hired. It was then she made the decision to be number one at being number two.
"When that director left, I knew I had leadership skills that weren't being utilized, I felt like there was more that I could be doing," Kimberly notes.
Others thought she was ready too. After some hesitations followed by prayer, Kimberly took on the role as interim director under the stipulation that if she didn't like the work, she could return to nursing.
"After three weeks, I officially applied for the job, and now it is nearly six years serving as team director," Kimberly says. "I'm a firm believer that God is in control of what He has me doing and the knowledge and skills to lead this team in the way they need to be led."
During her time as team director, Kimberly has built a team dedicated to the care they provide patients and their families.
"You can't come to this team for a paycheck. "It's not just a job, you have to have a drawing to and a passion for hospice," she says. " I have no doubt that my team feels the same way, we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. And, we have a phenomenal culture here. It's truly a compassionate, supportive team that takes care of each other."
Kimberly says she feels blessed every day she walks through the doors at EveryStep.
“It is a privilege and an honor to work in hospice care, alongside an amazing team that believes in the care and support we are providing to the communities we serve,” she notes.