How Hard Work Led One Woman to a Job That She Loves
At 17, while other teens were worrying about prom dresses and SAT testing, Melissa Frechette was a new immigrant in America caring for her grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease. She learned through trial and error how to manage care for a loved one with this debilitating disease and gleaned what she could from extended family members who also shared the responsibility of care. And while carrying that level of responsibility without the support of her parents may seem astounding to many, for Melissa it was only natural. “We’re Filipino, and we take care of our elderly. It’s expected of us.”
Today, Melissa works at SKLD West Bloomfield as an administer in training, but her road to skilled nursing administration wasn’t direct. While caring for her grandmother all day, Melissa attended nursing school full time in the evenings. She then worked in various jobs, including nursing, as a lab technician and even in a bank before deciding to enlist in the army. There she served as a culinary operations specialist and met her husband while on duty in Afghanistan.
All of that life experience comes together for Melissa every day in her job, she says. As a nurse she understands the clinical needs of patients, her past administrative jobs gave her behind-the-scenes experience in skilled nursing facilities, and the army taught her discipline and the ability to work with all different types of people and under intense pressure.
Working on the administrative side of a skilled nursing facility is ideal for Melissa’s interests and strengths, and she hopes to eventually own her own facility. Although she loves nursing, she values the unlimited time she is able to spend with SKLD patients now. Over the years, she says, she’s seen many peers burn out of bedside care because the work can be demanding. “The administrative role is all about customer service. What can I do for you and how can I help you?”
With her husband now on his sixth deployment for the military, Melissa seizes the opportunity to devote herself to a job she loves. She works at SKLD from 2-11PM, an unusual shift for administrators, but the hours allow her to overlap with every shift for employees. She is also better able to support families who visit relatives after work or in the evenings.
Melissa has a way of relating well to patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, as well as supporting their family members because of her own family’s experience. “I understand what these families are going through, and I treat the patients like they are my own grandmother.”
By rising to the challenge of caring for a loved one at such a young age, Melissa set the course for a career that she loves.