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Employee Spotlight: Darlene Wiljanen

Jan 20, 2021

Lauren R. Tschirhart, Development Assistant & Volunteer Liaison & Reverend Diane Smith, MDiv., BCC, Director of Ministry Engagement

“Of all the nursing I have done, hospice has been by far the most rewarding,” said Care Center Nurse Darlene Wiljanen. Darlene has proudly served Angela Hospice as a Care Center Nurse for the past ten years.

The youngest of 12 children in a very Catholic family, Darlene was raised believing that her life had a purpose. “I was raised with the belief that you’re only on this earth for a very short time and I feel that I am able to live out my purpose when I help my patients prepare to meet the Father. I love the holistic approach of hospice nursing, caring for the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of the patient,” she said.

Darlene may have ultimately found her purpose working in hospice care, but her journey did not begin there. Nursing was a familiar career path in her family, with two of her sisters working as OB-GYN nurses. Darlene felt that calling as well and decided to follow in their footsteps. Darlene went on to graduate from nursing school, and got a job in a hospital setting practicing all different kinds of nursing. Later, after she married and began to raise a family, her focus shifted and her life’s purpose became being available for her family. She left nursing to be a stay-at-home mom for 11 years and loved every minute of it!

As her children grew older, Darlene decided to go back to work, but she quickly realized that nursing was not what it used to be. She spoke of consistently feeling inadequate. “I felt I couldn’t meet everybody’s needs,” said Darlene. That became abundantly clear one night when a patient asked for help with a simple yet time-consuming task.

“In my head I thought, ‘Absolutely not!’ because I was short on time, by myself, and responsible for so many patients,” Darlene explained. “I was disheartened in that moment realizing the challenges I faced. I knew immediately I wanted to do something else.”

Darlene became interested in hospice after hearing about the kind of “holistic” care nurses could provide to their patients. She was especially drawn to the fact that the hospice philosophy relied on a team concept for its success. Having made up her mind, Darlene googled ‘hospice nursing’ and Angela Hospice popped up.

“I honestly feel I was led here. Angela Hospice and I have the same ideals and philosophies. I can incorporate my faith. I am passionate and feel it is a privilege to take care of these patients at the end of their life,” Darlene said. She expressed that these ideals are the reasons why she stays at Angela Hospice.

Born with a purpose. Called to care for others. Led to hospice. It sounds like Darlene is exactly where she is meant to be!

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