Ann Portmann was nearing her 20th anniversary as an accountant when she felt a pull in her heart to become a hospice nurse.
“It was really and truly a calling,” she said. “I had worked for the same company for 19 years and they were going through a reorganization, which forced me to think ‘If I didn’t have my job here, what would I do?’
“But when I wasn’t laid off and learned I still had a job, all I could think about was that I had to change direction,” she added.
Portmann enrolled at Harper College in Palatine to earn her nursing degree, taking perquisite courses like anatomy and physiology at night while working full-time and being a full-time mom. She left her job on her 20th anniversary to become a nurse and never looked back.
Today, Portmann is a Registered Nurse and Team Manager at the JourneyCare Pepper Family Hospice CareCenter in Barrington. She was also honored this fall as one of Harper College’s 2020 Distinguished Alumni.
Portmann marries her role with JourneyCare and her ongoing commitment to guide the new generation of nurses coming through Harper College – especially because few nursing programs have information that is specific to hospice nursing.
“My way of giving back was take the students for nursing rotations and, whenever they invite me to speak, I educate them on the importance of hospice in the nursing realm, which is primarily focused only on making the patient better.”
Portmann currently oversees a Harper nursing student on their eight-week capstone every semester at JourneyCare’s Barrington CareCenter. Their experience there shows them the value of hospice nursing that Portmann knows very well.
“One thing I love about hospice nursing is that it takes care of everybody’s needs,” Portmann says. “You not only provide comfort for the patient, but for their loved ones. Hospice nursing is so holistic, and it gives you the opportunity to take care of somebody at the most vulnerable time in their life and help them navigate something they have never been through before.”