Hospice Nurse Practitioner, On Compassion & Kindness

Michelle Cooley
Michelle Cooley, Hospice of the Red River Valley nurse practitioner

We are all the same inside, and we all have the same basic needs—no matter our culture, age or road to travel. It’s a simple sentiment, but one in which Michelle Cooley, Hospice of the Red River Valley nurse practitioner, lives to the “T.” As a mother of three, grandmother of two, former foster parent and international exchange student host family mother, Michelle understands acts of love, compassion and kindness are far more rewarding long-term than the initial benefits they reap.

“It’s always been my belief that we can make the world a better place by helping one child or one person at a time,” Michelle explained. “I want to help out any way I can.” The calling to make a difference resonates not only in Michelle’s personal life, but also in her career choice—nursing.

For more than 30 years, she worked in the Grand Forks health care system as a registered nurse, then a nurse practitioner. Additionally, Michelle worked as an assistant clinical professor at the North Dakota College of Nursing in Grand Forks during much of the same time. After having raised her children with her husband, Michelle made the move to hospice care a few months ago when she joined Hospice of the Red River Valley. “It’s always something I wanted to do,” she explained. “I want to be there to help patients live the fullest life possible until the end.”

In her role, Michelle travels the more than 25,000 square miles that encompass Hospice of the Red River Valley’s service area for face-to-face visits with patients. She also works closely with Hospice’s medical director to collaborate on comfort and end-of-life care for patients and provides expert guidance to Hospice nursing staff regarding patient care.

“I feel I can make a difference in the lives of patients and their families by being caring, compassionate and supportive,” Michelle said. “We’re all going to be there some day, and no matter if it’s just something little, or a larger issue the patient faces, I want to advocate for them—and help be their voice.”

During her time at Hospice, it’s become apparent to Michelle that Hospice is the perfect fit, because like her, the other Hospice staff she has met takes their work very seriously. “I can see through everyone I’ve met at Hospice so far—even during orientation—it’s all about the patient and family,” Michelle explained. “It’s not a job to them [hospice staff]; it’s their mission. It takes a special kind of person to work in end-of-life care.”

Based on the sum of her experiences in nursing and with Hospice, Michelle enjoys working closely with patients. “It’s [hospice care] a good reminder to really appreciate what you might otherwise take for granted,” she said. “Dying is such a natural part of living, and I want to make that experience as comfortable as possible for the patient and the patient’s family while advocating for both.”

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.