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Robert Butzerin, RN, BSN

This content origi­nally appeared in the Spring/​Summer 2020 issue (PDF) of The Washington Nurse magazine. See the full set of stories on long-term care.

Robert Butzerin has a passion for the people he serves. He currently works as a manager in long-term care, super­vising two large nursing units with 37 staff members and 42 residents, with one of the lowest staff turnover rates in Provi­dence Home and Commu­nity Care.

Bob’s philosophy: Lead from the front #

Bob spends as little time in his office as possible and prefers direct care of the residents and mentoring his staff. I figure if I am helping staff and residents, that can best be done out on the units,” Bob said. I view it as leading from the front as far forward as possible.’ That’s an old Army leader­ship doctrine, and I believe in it sincerely. I feel absolutely engaged in my work.”

Bob admits he had turned the manage­ment job down several times because he knew it was a very stressful, never-ending job that involved a lot of diplo­macy and time. He is glad he was talked into it. I have never felt so needed in all my life!” he said. Having done both acute and long-term care, I prefer long-term care because of the longer-lasting and meaningful relation­ships you can have with residents, and even staff.”

How he got into long-term care nursing #

Bob became an LPN at North Seattle Commu­nity College in a program sponsored by the U.S. Army Reserve in 1986. He had been serving as a combat medic in a reserve unit. I had not planned to be a nurse at all, but it was a path to make Sergeant, so I accepted the offer,” he said. My nursing career has been very good to me.”

Bob served in Army hospi­tals working a variety of types of units. He was on active duty for a year and a half for the second Gulf War and served at Madigan Army Medical Center. He joined The Mount” (Provi­dence Mount St. Vincent) in 1992 as an LPN after serving in the Gulf War. He went for his RN at Seattle Central Commu­nity College in 1998 and earned his BSN at Tacoma’s UW campus part time in the evenings.

He has been with Provi­dence Home and Commu­nity care for nearly 30 years, serving nine years as a staff nurse and 15 years in administration.

The work is a personal ministry for Bob. This is one of these rare jobs where I feel needed and appre­ci­ated and look forward to coming to work every day,” he said. It is very emotion­ally satis­fying work.”

“I figure if I am helping staff and residents, that can best be done out on the units. I view it as ‘leading from the front as far forward as possible.’”

What makes it hard #

Bob said the main barriers he encoun­ters are time manage­ment and life balance. I just have to be able to walk away at the end of the day, or even take a day off, knowing I may never get every­thing done,” he said. However, I know for sure my admin­is­trator and I both know and focus on what really matters most: retaining quality staff, keeping staff and residents safe and working to create an atmos­phere people feel appre­ci­ated and good about working in.”

What makes it rewarding #

Much of Bob’s job deals with end-of-life care, which is a large part of the mission. He says end of life is always a very stressful time for resident families who may have never been through it before. Helping them learn how we can help ease the passing of their parent and give them a digni­fied death, surrounded by family and staff who love them, is very emotion­ally satis­fying work,” Bob said. I am frequently left amazed by family and staff in these situa­tions and enjoy playing a role in easing what might other­wise be unbear­able. I remember being there with residents as they passed away, sometimes sitting with them alone, holding their hands and talking to them, sometimes standing, praying with and comforting grieving family members dozens of times, each time leaving an eternal impres­sion on me. I really feel like it is God’s work we are doing here, and this helps me act on my faith and values.“