INTERVIEW - Director of Hospice with Lisa Diez

doer helper organizer Oct 28, 2020

"I did have cancer I went through treatment, I found the Chaplains in the hospital setting very comforting, and those people that reached out to me in that way...made me think of my own end of life and what that could look like...and made me want to be in the field professionally" - Lisa Diez

Today, we get to learn about how Lisa helps people be at peace at the end of their life. Your initial reaction may be to pull away because this field is centered around death, but if you find people’s life history interesting and want to help others come to terms with their life so they can have peace… listen in. This interview is full of spirituality, removing stigmas and learning about how “systems” can help you make a bigger impact in this world.

Enjoy - Oie

Career Interview with Lisa Diez

1. What is your current occupation? How long have you been in this field? My current occupation is Director of Operations for Intrepid Hospice. I have been working in hospice for 3 years, initially as a Chaplain and since February as Director. I had an operations role for 20 years with ministry on the side. I had decided about 3 years ago to switch to FT Hospice Chaplain and continue to do some operations PT. I only had a few years to spend with patients directly before I transitioned back to Director role.

2. What drew you to this? What drew me to this field was my desire to help others be at peace before they die and to support families in the process. Many people have broken relationships that need reconciliation, or things that they never said and wish they would have. This is a time to do those things and to enter the grief process with as much tools as possible to cope.

I think as a society we have put death as taboo conversation. Listen, we are all going to die, no one is escaping this process. I think it is so important that people are able to do so on their own terms in their own way. Everyone has a right to either continue treatment or end it and pass away peacefully.

3. What do you love about it, and what do you dislike about it? I love seeing people come to terms with their belief system. I love seeing people “be ready” to die. I don’t mean that to sound morbid, but to be fearful and afraid of dying is very painful. It is so important to come to terms as much as possible with where you are at and what our medical field can and can’t do.

One thing I really dislike about working in hospice is the stigma. When people hear that someone is electing the hospice benefit, they are immediately thinking someone is going to die in 2 days. Hospice is meant to be a benefit, available to all of us at the end of our life to be comfortable and to have our needs taken care of. This is a benefit to us. If a physician certifies that our life expectancy is no longer than 6 months (and many times people end up on hospice longer!), we should have a right to the extra care for symptom management. You get the option of a Spiritual Care Coordinator, a Social Worker, a nurse, and an aide to assist you. This is a wonderful thing.

4. For people considering your career, what advice would you give? I would say to not be afraid of the hard conversations. Most people want to have these conversations and become quite open to them as time advances. It is an area of health care that can push you past your initial training. To manage a fantastic team of clinicians who provide great care to people is a beautiful thing to create.

5. What are your natural strengths? I am a people person by nature and I like to listen to people. I am very matter of fact and not afraid to have tough conversations. MN Nice is not always my cup of tea as I prefer to discuss things openly and not bury them. I am a process person and while I understand big picture, I am the person who will ask how your steps to that goal will be achieved.

6. How do your strengths align with your career? Building a team of clinicians who I care about, and who I want to create a better work environment for is the way to build culture within an office that trickles down to the patients we are honored to care for. I think because I genuinely care about what happens to each and every member of my team, and the patients as well, we are in a place of becoming the provider of choice in our area. Because I focus on details of a process, it allows things to work more smoothly as well. 

7. What skills did you have to learn that’s needed in your career? I am the kind of person that likes to give people a lot of chances. It is the reason that on the side I do rehabilitative ministry things or community partnerships to fix problems or gaps that I have seen. This also means that I will strive to “fix” a person or situation at times past where I should have held them accountable for actions or behavior. I am learning to have expectations and how to balance those.

8. What did you do to learn these skills? I would say that it is trial and error in many ways. I am learning what works and what doesn’t and that at times, sticking to policies to define my expectations is my best course of action. I also have a really good boss who has consistently modeled this for me which has been important. 

9. When did you know you wanted to choose this career? I think really it began with a few personal experiences of friends/family on hospice or at the end of their life and also after I myself had cancer in 2011. All of those emotions and the process of that time really led into wanting to be someone who supported others through similar processes.

9. How did you know? I knew because it became a reoccurring theme in my life at the time of 2016 and on. I found myself walking beside, or sitting with people who were dying or talking with their families just personally. Not as a job. As that continued, my shift into it as a career occurred.

10. What kind of person do you naturally tend to be? Choose one or many. Which natural talents do you use in your career? I am a helper, doer, organizer for sure. If I see a need  I will look for a way to meet the need. I will then create an entire process for that need to be met. I do not like to see people struggle when it is unnecessary and resources and others to assist can occur. I use all of these in my current role.

11. What do you value? I value honesty. If you are struggling, say that and help can be found. If you have ability, say that and you can assist someone else. I value reconciliation and forgiveness above all else because I think that most problems can be resolved with conversation and seeking to understand instead of judge.

12. Does your career align with these values? I believe it does. We continually face honest, hard conversations in hospice. And we overcome obstacles consistently. 

13. How does your career align with your interests/passions? I am interested in God’s plan for my life and the lives of others. If you knew the end of your life was tomorrow, would you be happy with where you were at and what you had accomplished? What would you change? How can you live to your passion? Those are things I am passionate about. Making a difference in others and I believe providing hospice care to people to assist them in honestly evaluating where they are, with family, with friends, with their own failed hopes and dreams. And most importantly, where are they spiritually? What are their beliefs about the afterlife?

14. What type of impact do you make on this world? I want to make a difference in systems so that those systems can reach the people in them. One person at a time is still my focus and goal, but ultimately a systematic change is what is actually necessary to create broad change. Within the hospice realm, I want to reach communities who do not understand they even have the benefit. They may not even know they are eligible for hospice and they are dying in the hospital even though they would prefer to be at home. I want to educate people about what hospice really is and what it can be.

15. Any advice you would give to someone who is struggling with career choices? Find something you are passionate about and work in that arena. Otherwise you will likely always be unhappy. However, work is not where your fulfillment comes from. I can tell you as a prior hospice chaplain who has sat with many patients who have expressed consistent regret for working their life away from those they love and care about. Know what matters.

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