Clinical Director, Sharon Criscione, has been with our organization since Stein Hospice opened its doors in 2005. This month, we sat down with Sharon to learn about her 35-year journey in the field of nursing, and what hospice care means to her.
A Brooklyn native, Sharon began her nursing education at Beth Israel School of Nursing where she received her RN associate degree in 1984. She then began working in a variety of areas at both Beth Israel Medical Center and Methodist Hospital – gaining experience in their medical surgical and respiratory care units. After moving to NJ, Sharon provided care for eight years in Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s medical intensive care unit, where she was on their quality assurance committee. Following her time there, Sharon began focusing her work in the field of hospice care.
“I got my first experience with hospice while working for the Visiting Nurses Association. That’s really when I realized I loved hospice. It feels good to help people go through what really is a special, but difficult time,” Sharon explained. It was during that time that Sharon received her BSN at Thomas Edison State College and joined Stein Hospice as an on-call RN. In 2009, she was asked to come on permanently as clinical director.
During her first two years as clinical director, Sharon became familiar with hospice care in a different way – when her 18-year-old son was diagnosed with a terminal illness. “I thought I had to figure out how to separate being a mom from being a hospice nurse. Then I realized this wasn’t something I should do. I needed to make every day Alex had comfortable and symptom-free, but also continue loving him only like a mom can,” Sharon wrote in a guest post for Nurse.com.
When asked if the experience changed her approach towards providing care today, Sharon had this to say, “I think that I always gave the best care that I could before, but after seeing the nurses and all that they did for my son – it made me a better nurse. I carry the experience with me even in how I treat my staff, giving that extra care and understanding.”
Today, Sharon holds a Master of Science in Nursing and a Hospice and Palliative Care certification. Her goals for Stein Hospice are continued growth and maintaining the highest quality of care for its patients. Outside of her work, Sharon loves to read books of all kinds. She also enjoys spending time with her two dogs, husband, and her son Brian – who graduated from Ocean County Police Academy last year.
Sharon shares an important philosophy behind hospice care: “People often associate hospice with dying, but hospice is about living – living every day we have with the best possible quality of life.” The Wilf Campus appreciates Sharon’s contributions to our organization and hopes to uphold these values as we continue to grow.