UVMHN Employee Spotlight: Meet Chelsea Chalfant, On-Call Night Nurse at UVM Home Health and Hospice!
Published Feb. 15, 2024

The UVM Health Network and our partner affiliates, including UVM Home Health and Hospice, are staffed with passionate employees committed to providing unparalleled, top-quality care for patients and the community.

Employee Feature: Chelsea Chalfant, RN, is one of our remarkable employees, proud of the work she does and the care she provides patients and their families in the comfort of their own homes. The UVM Health Network was fortunate to interview Chelsea, as she shared her experiences and the perks of being an on-call night nurse at UVM Home Health and Hospice.



How long have you been working at UVM Home Health and Hospice? What is your specific role there?

CHELSEA: I’ve been working here seven years, as of this month. I currently work as an on-call night nurse and I primarily support hospice patients. I treat patients on our Adult Home Health service. I respond to urgent needs at night, and provide end-of-life care in our patients’ home environments.


What motivated you to choose working here over other healthcare organizations?

CHELSEA: My husband and I were getting ready to move to Vermont from the Midwest. I looked around the area for opportunities. I started talking to the people here, which was still a VNA facility (Visiting Nurse Association) at the time. People had such great things to say about working here. I did my own research and read a lot of reviews. I even stopped by in person, and sort of did my own ‘meet and greet’ with leadership – this was seven years ago, by the way – and they were so receptive to that. It all clicked during that visit. I could see how close-knit the team was while working together, how they really embedded themselves into the work and cared about the community. After my initial visit, we were back in Indiana getting ready for our move to Vermont, and I kept getting calls and emails from people here, for weeks, asking me to come in for a formal interview. They reached out a lot. My choice to work with UVM Home Health as opposed to other hospice facilities came down to how warm and welcoming the people were when I arrived. Working here felt right, even before I got here!


Have you always been in this role, or did you explore other areas/opportunities across the Network beforehand?

CHELSEA: This is actually a return to bedside work for me, this year. I was a clinical nurse educator for UVM’s Home Health and Hospice program for the past six years. I love teaching, but my heart was just telling me, I needed to shake things up, and I realized I missed doing bedside care full-time. Going to people’s homes to provide that care and comfort is such an honor.


Do you like working nights?

CHELSEA: I love the connections I make with patients because of the night schedule. It’s a privilege to be present during the most intimate and heartwarming moments, at night, during what I call “the twilight hours.” I get to be there with the patients, get to know them, and I am able to provide support for their families. The goal is to keep the patient comfortable at home. I know people hear “nights” and think the hours are unmanageable. It’s really not. We work one week on, and then have one week off, so I get a full week’s-worth of a break every other week. I am able to plan my life around that. It’s awesome.


Do you feel that your current role is more fulfilling?

CHELSEA: Yes, definitely. I’d say that my soul needed it, this change back to bedside care…and that’s the beauty of nursing, really – having the ability to pivot and use your license to treat patients in different areas of practice, but still stay in the field.


Do you feel that the UVM Home Health and Hospice supports you and your colleagues’ decisions to make career pivots?

CHELSEA: Absolutely. They give us opportunities to develop our skills and set new goals. We get to stay within the Network and continue serving the community, but in different ways and using our new skill sets as nurses. They’re always encouraging us to go back to school, try different roles, or begin training for different licensures.


Have you taken advantage of any professional development programs or growth opportunities? Can you give an example?

CHELSEA: One thing I love about our program is that the career growth they encourage is ongoing. One example - they’ve really been pushing us to get our Hospice and Palliative Care certifications, it’s a national certification for nurses and clinicians. So, thanks to the support and encouragement from my peers and the Network, I’m now a certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse through the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association. I have to keep my certification up every five years, but they also cover the costs for our initial certification, which is very expensive. Earning these certifications helps us move up the clinical ladder of expertise.


When you say “our program,” which program do you mean, specifically?

CHELSEA: I mean UVM Home Health and Hospice. We have the umbrella network that is UVMHN. Our benefits have improved significantly over the years, since we merged as a family within the Network. We are finally able to level the playing field for all of our staff and enhance our skills with the support, resources and backing from UVMHN.


Did you experience challenges during your transition to bedside care full-time?

CHELSEA: No. My team is very close-knit, I’ve worked with them before. They were so welcoming and happy that I was able to make the switch. After being a clinical nurse educator here for so long, it was heartwarming to see that my people were not only supportive of the switch, but they were thrilled and grateful I was on board. I feel extremely lucky.


Were there a lot of changes once the former Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) merged with UVMHN?

CHELSEA: The VNA joined the UVM Health Network family about four, maybe five years ago. However we still hold those roots dear and are part of the national organization (the VNA). The transition was a bit bumpy at first, but we all banded together, as people do when you work on a dynamic team trying to get to know each other. Again, the merge gave us a ton of access to resources. Getting to know more professionals and clinicians, too, across the Network, has been a great learning experience and growth path for all of us, especially as we’re building our careers in Home Health. UVMHN has opened a lot of doors for us.


How does the organization provide you and your colleagues support while working in patients’ homes at night?

CHELSEA: We’re a small team and I work closely with everyone. There’s always a triage nurse, who we’re all connected with. She’s basically the answering service, she takes the calls and we make the visits. We all help each other with her support. I can always call the triage nurse to get what I need during a home visit, like supplies. We have a Hospice Medical Director who’s always on call. We have a doctor who’s a phone call away at any time. Everyone is responsive. The triage nurse and I check in before visits, during and after visits. She always knows where we are. In Home Health, we must make sure our nurses are communicating with one another, which makes me feel secure and supported while on the job. I never feel alone out there.


What does a typical night at work look like?

CHELSEA: It depends. Some nights I hardly get any calls or visits. However, last night, it was very busy. I was busy from when I started, from 5:00 p.m. until around 2 or 3 in the morning…but that’s also another reason why I love what I do. We’re not doing the same thing every day. I like not knowing where the night is going to take us. I get to work with patients and their families, while keeping them at home, and that is so special. I feel fortunate.


What’s the hardest part of your job?

CHELSEA: This is challenging work, but it’s also beautiful. The connections we make with each other and our patients are beautiful. Again, I get to witness these very vulnerable moments inside patients’ homes with their families, so it’s really an honor and a privilege to provide care in that personal setting, but I’ve also experienced some really sad moments. I’ve been in situations where I question whether my heart can take it, watching families go through grief…but at the same time, it’s worth it because I know the goal is to keep the patient comfortable, at home, and with their families – and that is what we do.


What is your favorite part about your job?

CHELSEA: The schedule. I think I mentioned earlier, I work seven nights a week, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., but having every other week off is amazing – I’m not exaggerating! It’s a game changer. A lot of staffing agencies and healthcare organizations don’t offer nurses that one week on, one week off schedule. They usually have you working three or four nights in a row, then you have three or four nights off. I’ve been a nurse for fifteen years, and I can tell you that burnout can be real. Here, however, during my seven days off I am able to travel, or I can rest and stay put, too! I also have a lot of family out of state, and lately they’ve had more health needs and concerns, so having every other week off allows me to visit my family, spend time with them and take care of them. Besides the incredible work, and my team, I’d say the schedule and flexibility in between is my favorite benefit.


What would you tell a nurse who is interested in joining your team at UVM Home Health and Hospice? Why should they work there?

CHELSEA: The state of Vermont is like a small town in a big place and it’s a beautiful location to watch your career flourish. The Network has a really big presence and history in this community. Here, you can watch yourself evolve as a nurse and a clinician. I’ve also seen nurses leave us and eventually come back! We love the work so much. Our people love that small, local community, grassroots-type feeling we have at work–while still being under that big UVMHN umbrella. Also just living in Vermont in general…It’s the most beautiful place to work, day or night!


If UVM Home Health and Hospice was a car, what kind of car would it be, and why?

CHELSEA: It would be something practical and sturdy, like a Toyota. Or a Honda, because you’ll know that sometimes it’ll need maintenance, but it’s always reliable and helps us keep each other going! Maybe even a hybrid or an electric car, because we’re innovating, and that’s ongoing. As the community’s needs change, so do ours. So, yes - it would be a reliable and sturdy Toyota or Honda!




Are you interested in building a rewarding career in Home Health and Hospice care? Join us at the UVM Health Network and explore opportunities that support both your professional and personal goals. Learn more at https://www.uvmhealthnetworkcareers.org/jobs/?hospital=hhh-uvm-health-network-home-health-hospice.

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