“If you told me I was going to be a nurse in high school, I would have laughed.” Those are the words of 26-year-old Casey Lamb, the assisted living unit manager at CarDon & Associates’ Cumberland Trace community in Plainfield.
Who’s laughing now, though? Certainly not the staff and residents at Cumberland Trace.
“Casey is a fantastic man and a fabulous nurse,” said Cumberland Trace Director of Residential Marketing Misty Cummings. “His dedication impresses me most. He is hands-on with the residents and won’t leave until his job is done.”
It’s that personal interaction with the residents that Casey considers the most important part of his job.
Lamb grew up in Parke County, Ind., near Turkey Run State Park. He graduated from Turkey Run High School with grades K-12 all in one building.
“I had the biggest graduating class in school history,” he said with a laugh. “We had forty-eight people.” He described his childhood as living on a dirt road that more buggies traveled down than cars.
After graduating high school in 2007, Casey was fortunate to receive a full ride to any Indiana college or university through the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship.
“I’m the youngest of five boys and the first one to go to college, let alone get it paid for,” he said. So he took advantage of it, studying everything from engineering to physics to classical guitar.
For someone who took multiple Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school and seemed to have a knack for many subjects, it all came down to what felt right for him at the time.
“I even made a living playing drums for a while,” Casey said. He didn’t want to pass up the opportunity, although he never intended on being a full-time musician.
“I was never much better in one thing than another and didn’t know exactly what I wanted to major in and focus on,” he said.
What did he finally choose? Casey went to nursing school with his mom, Lou Ann.
He had already finished the prerequisites for nursing school at Ivy Tech in Terre Haute, having decided nursing offered mobility and flexibility in his career. He didn’t plan to go to school with his mom, but that’s what happened.
“Fate worked out,” Lamb said. “My mom decided to go to nursing school to help my dad out, whose health was struggling a bit, and she wanted to help financially and with the insurance. The timing ended up being right for me, too.”
Casey’s dad, John, called him and asked him to go to school with Lou Ann. It was the first time his dad had asked him for anything.
“It was a no brainer,” Casey said. “Thirty minutes after my dad asked me, I was packed and ready to go. My dad’s been working all kinds of shift work to take care of a family of five kids for thirty years. Of course I wanted to do whatever he asked.”
Lamb transferred to Ivy Tech in Lafayette, where he and his mom attended nursing school together.
“It was a lot better than I anticipated,” he said. “We did everything together. I thought I was going to have to help her all the time, but that just wasn’t true. She was golden. She was much more helpful to me, and it was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be.”
And in 2013, mother and son graduated from nursing school. Mom works as a prison nurse at the Rockville Correctional Facility, the largest state prison for women in Indiana. Son works at Cumberland Trace, although his current position wasn’t where he originally started.
“I started working in rehab with CarDon in September 2015,” Lamb said. “It was definitely more of a hands-on job, and I loved working rehab. But I’ve had a lot of my own surgeries though — on my shoulder, my back and my knees — so the rehab work was hard on my body.”
Against his nature, Casey finally broke down and applied for some alternative jobs with CarDon that weren’t as labor intensive.
“I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer all day long,” he said. “But I needed a position that wasn’t so physical.” The next morning, Lamb was offered the position of unit manager. Oddly enough, CarDon management had no idea he had even applied for the other jobs requiring less labor.
“The administration had asked for recommendations for the position, and they had no idea I actually wanted something less physical,” he said. “It was cosmic timing. It was a coincidence you shouldn’t ignore.”
His primary duties as unit manager involve collaboration and organization, keeping the lines of communication open between residents’ doctors, specialists and pharmacies. He also works the floor four out of five days of the week, making interacting with the residents a priority.
“I am still very involved in their care,” Casey said. “It’s the part of the job I really love. There’s a great balance in this job, and I’m glad I still have the chance to be the caregiver for all the residents here.”
The residents at Cumberland Trace are glad, too.
“He gets eye level and spends so much time getting to know the folks at Cumberland Trace,” Cummings said. “He has only been the assisted living unit manager a short time and has already organized the nurses’ station and developed new systems. The residents are so happy with him.”
Being a member of the CarDon team is something Casey feels lucky to be part of.
“The management has your back here, and they make the interests of their employees and residents a priority,” he said. “There’s a genuine feel and a team effort between everyone.”
And Casey is most grateful for something else CarDon gives him.
“They give me the opportunity to leave my job every day knowing I’m a good nurse.”