Jerry Jackson, Nurse Surveyor, Region 3
As a nurse surveyor in Region 3 (Metroplex), Jerry Jackson is part of a team that visits long-term care facilities to check the care that residents receive, and to ensure that state and federal regulations are being followed. In this position, Jackson sees first-hand the positive changes DADS makes in the lives of long-term care facility residents.
Jackson has been a nurse since 1998. He worked in a nursing home as a Medicare nurse before coming to work for the state. He found great satisfaction in his private sector work, and feared he might not enjoy the same satisfaction working as a surveyor. However, he soon found that was not the case.
"When I first started — coming from direct resident care — I didn't know if the job satisfaction would be here; I was afraid I'd miss the one-on-one contact with residents."
He said that his work is still gratifying, but in a different way. "We get to follow the care of many different residents, so there's a lot of satisfaction there," he said. "And when people say they're happy with the care they're receiving, DADS has a role in that, and I take a lot of satisfaction in that."
Jackson’s work helps residents directly, but also indirectly. "The nature of long-term care is constant change — change in regulations, change in facility personnel — and all that affects the care residents receive," he said. "The regulations we enforce provide some stability for the residents."
The feedback he receives from residents is gratifying. "We don't see residents every day, but when we do and they tell you they're satisfied with their care — that makes for a good day," he said. "Or when we do a return visit and see that care has been improved — that makes for a good day, too."
Jackson likes his job so well that he's recommended DADS to friends who are looking for employment. "There are benefits in the private sector, " he said, "but at DADS there's some consistency; when you go to work, you know what's expected of you. The training here is exceptional, too; when you're sent out, you know you're well-prepared."
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Saralyn Scott, Nurse Surveyor, Region 3
Saralyn Scott, a nurse surveyor in Region 3 (Metroplex), calls her job "the best of both worlds" for a nurse.
Being a surveyor is, "being able to advocate for and protect a vulnerable population," she said, "but it's also being able to use critical thinking and clinical-based knowledge. This is an autonomous position but you’re not left out there alone to fend for yourself. We have a great support system regionally and statewide.”
In her job she conducts annual licensure and recertification visits, conducts incident and complaint investigations, follow-up surveys, as well as surveys for new facilities and changes of ownership. Scott has been a nurse for more than 30 years — an LVN for 20 and an RN since 1997. She's worked for the state of Texas for more than 20 years.
Scott likes most aspects of her job. Her team comprises professionals from a number of disciplines, and she learns from all of them. She also likes the variety her job provides. “Every day brings on a different challenge,” she said. She also appreciates that her job draws on her hard-earned nursing skills. “You’re still using those very basic skills to know what a prudent nurse would do in a given situation. That doesn't stop just because you don’t work in a clinical setting.”
Scott also appreciates the fact that nurse surveyors can always count on working (and getting paid for) 40 hours a week. She also likes the flexibility. "Sometimes we have to start early, and there are days we have to work late," she said. "But we flex our time in those instances, so there's still time to work a life around your work schedule.”
Scott likes her job well enough to recommend it to friends as a great place to work. A selling point for her is the pace of the job, which she describes as, "not as frantic as a hospital job, and not as physically demanding as a lot of clinical settings. If you're a hospital nurse you're on your feet the whole eight hours or more. When you’re off, you’re off. No one is going to call and ask you to come in.”
The best thing about her job, however, is making life better for others. "When I'm in an exit conference and I am able to tell that facility's staff that there are some things they will have to change for the benefit of those residents, it makes me feel like I've done a good job," she said.
Scott counters those who believe that nurse surveyors aren't "real” nurses. “You have to have the same compassion here as you would in any clinical setting. We just do if from the other side. We still maintain contact with those we serve; we're not just 'paperwork' nurses," she said. "We're more than that; a lot more."
Updated: April 23, 2013