Why rural? Vermont nurses explain how they find joy working and living in remote communities

Gifford nurse Jamie Cushman with goats on her family farm

Gifford Health Care is spotlighting team members who live, work and deliver health care in rural Vermont, as part of its “Redefining Rural” video series. Gifford is a federally qualified health center with a critical access hospital in Randolph, Vt., and a network of community health centers throughout central Vermont and the Upper Valley. Selling its workforce on the unique offerings of rural New England involves letting the workers themselves explain how they find meaning and joy, whether in the work they do or in the surrounding community itself.

Nadine Nelson, director of nursing at Gifford Health Care’s Menig Nursing Home, whose family immigrated to Vermont from South Africa in the winter of 1994, leads a team that provides long-term care at the only skilled nursing facility in Orange County. Nelson is passionate about working with older adult patients.

“We don’t have a lot of long-term care facilities in the region, and I think this is where the need is going to be moving forward,” she explains.

While the change in region from South Africa to Vermont is substantial, Nelson also grew to love snow and the beauty and culture of rural America in all seasons. She enjoys mountain biking and gravel biking in her spare time.

Gifford nurse Jamie Cushman, on the other hand, is a native Vermonter. Cushman and her family live on a farm, where they raise goats and sell homegrown food and homemade items like soap. Cushman finds meaning in health care, first at age 15, when she took a first aid class, followed by working for an ambulance service a year later. Though she didn’t earn a nursing degree immediately after high school, she now holds a master’s in nursing.

“Health care is something I’ve always done and always loved,” Cushman says.

Watch Gifford’s “Redefining Rural” videos to learn more about its health care workers.

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