Suncoast Hospice nurses find satisfaction in making difference for patients, community

Like many healthcare organizations, Suncoast Hospice is recruiting nurses to join its clinical teams. Left Suncoast Hospice RN Case Manager Carmenita Booze and right Suncoast Hospice RN Case Manager Barbara James

By Karen Davis-Pritchett M.Ed., Empath Health Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Sophia Hopkins Mitchell, a hospice patient, had a notion that her mom, Barbara James, had the heart to support patients and families at end of life. Before Mitchell passed away, she encouraged James to change her focus to hospice care.

That was more than 20 years ago. James has been an RN case manager with Suncoast Hospice ever since. Today, she is a member of the Purple Team, which cares for primarily homebound patients on the west side of Pinellas County.

“She saw that I was getting bored. It was just such a godsend for her to tell me that,” James said. “I was able to be accepted into the hospice just before she passed. I got so much help when she passed. They were my support. I don’t know if I could have made it if I didn’t have hospice at that time.”

James’s story is familiar at Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health. Many nurses attracted to working in hospice are directly linked to the specialized end-of-life care provided to patients and their families.

“I think they see the impact that hospice had on their family. That’s what they want, to support other families too,” said Ann-Katrin Ritchie, talent acquisition lead at Empath Health.

Like many healthcare organizations, Suncoast Hospice is recruiting nurses to join its clinical teams. There are many reasons why a nurse should join our teams. The very nature of hospice is attractive to those nurses who feel rushed or overworked at other organizations.

RNs at Suncoast see fewer patients each day and get to spend up to an hour at each patient visit. They also have the opportunity to educate caregivers and family members to improve a patient’s quality of life.

“One of the benefits is they get to spend more time with each patient as compared to some nursing roles where they are being rushed from one patient to the next. That is why they went to nursing school, to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. With this type of nursing, they’re able to feel like they’re making a difference and an impact in the community where they live,” said Judith Petersen, BA, SHRM-SCP, talent acquisition manager at Empath.

RN Case Manager Carmenita Booze works with James on the Purple Team. She had an interest in hospice during nursing school but elected to start her career at a hospital because Suncoast Hospice required prior clinical experience. Her interest was reignited while listening to a community presentation by a Community Partnership Specialist, and she soon attended a Suncoast hiring event. She has been with Suncoast since July 2019.

“As a hospice nurse, it’s the joy of being there and helping the patient and their family as they go on a different journey of saying, ‘I know my disease can’t be cured, and I know I’m going to pass away at some point,’” said Booze.

“You’re a part of their care planning to ensure their transition is beautiful. There is tranquility, no stress. This is the first time I am 100 percent happy and 100 percent not stressed. I am glad God put me on this track to be a nurse for Suncoast Hospice,” Booze said.

James agrees. She is thankful her daughter put her on the same track.

“I’ve met so many interesting people over the 20 years I’ve worked at hospice,” James said. “I’ve laughed with them; I’ve cried with them. Just to be there at the end, someone there when they take their last breath, someone to hold their hand, to talk to them. That support is so special to me. I think everyone should have some kind of support at the end of life, and I’m blessed to be able to provide it.”

To learn more about nursing opportunities at Suncoast Hospice, visit

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