Audra Turnbull: Professional Guardian-Compassionate Companions Inc.

What’s challenging/interesting/rewarding about my current job?

As a professional guardian, I advocate for those who are developmentally disabled, mentally ill, or have been diagnosed with some form of dementia. Due to these disabilities, our clients cannot make their own decisions so we are appointed by the court to act as surrogate decision-makers for them.

I work in my client’s best interest to provide safe housing, financial stability, good care providers and good doctors. In working with these populations, my job is to help my clients navigate through the mental health and health systems. It’s a daunting task as I work with social workers, doctors, nurses, landlords, social service agencies to gather the best resources for my clients. It’s always rewarding when we find the right type housing or resources for our clients that will help them live their lives as independently as possible.

How do I use various communication proficiencies in my work?

Communication is critical to my line of work. I have to gather the facts of my client’s life and create a “story” to share with service providers. For example, my client goes to the hospital ER and in the middle of the night the doctor calls wanting background information on that client. I have to give the doctor a short and concise medical and social history.

Anytime during the day, a crisis could happen. A client accuses a caregiver of abuse.  A landlord accuses a client of damaging property. As a guardian, I have to investigate any claim before making any decisions. I have to sort through bias and downright lies to best advocate for my client.

I also have to write detailed case notes on each client that others can understand. Fortunately for me I don’t have to make my notes entertaining. 🙂

What surprised me about my career?

That I love it! I did not set out to do this type of work. After all, my degree from QU was in communication with an concentration in broadcasting. However, I love that I get chance to use the communication skills that I learned at QU to help those who cannot help themselves.

Here’s my number one piece of advice for Communication undergrads:

Network! It sounds cliche but it’s not what you know it’s who you know that can make or break a career. Networking can not only get you that next job you want but it can also help you in your current career. Most of my job is cultivating relationships with others to better serve my clients and in return I become a resource for them as well.

I remember Dr. John Schleppenbach would always preach to us about the importance of internships and building relationships with professionals. Both Dr. Barb Schleppenbach and Dr. John encouraged us to join as many organizations as we could so we could learn to build relationships.

What should we have asked you?  Please answer that question too! 

What are your most cherished memories of being a communication major? For me, it was the family atmosphere created by Dr. John and Dr. Barb. Both of them were always so proud of us in whatever we did. Although we were competitive with one another we were all really good friends as well. It was great to be around such talented students who I also called my friends.

Class year: 2011

Previous jobs since graduation:
2011 Front desk manager WPWQ – Quincy, Illinois.
2011-2013 Welcome desk attendant Kroc Center – Quincy, Illinois.
2013-2016 Professional Guardian, Compassionate Companions, Monroe, Michigan.
2016-2018 Novitiate – Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (or what I like to call ‘nun school’) after one year of canonical novitiate I returned part time to Compassionate Companions. In August 2018, after profession of first vows I went full time with CC. 

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