After growing up in rural Huron, South Dakota, Leigh Larson, RN, MSN, took a passion for health care on the road. Active in high school sports, Leigh initially earned an exercise science degree from South Dakota State. Unsure of how to turn that knowledge into a fulfilling career, she discovered nursing.
“I went into nursing because I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” said Leigh, who has nursing degrees from Dakota Wesleyan University in South Dakota and Regis University in Colorado.
“After my first year of (nursing) school, I knew that was exactly what I was supposed to be doing.”
Caregiving would eventually bring her to Fairview Health Services in Minnesota. A nursing leader at Fairview, the 40-year-old is a system operations manager for staffing and scheduling.
“I’ve been with Fairview for 10 years, and what I love about it is the teaching aspect. We have community hospitals and we have metro hospitals. I think that makes it unique,” said Leigh, who works in St. Paul, Minnesota.
‘Rural versus the urban city’
Leigh drives back to South Dakota frequently to visit her mom and dad.
“It’s rural versus the urban city,” Leigh said while home for the holidays. “Now here, we’re going to go hunting tomorrow probably.”
Her hunting partner is her dad, Larry Larson.
“What I like about rural South Dakota, living here, are the outdoor activities, No. 1. (Also) the lack of people,” Larry adds, laughing. “I kind of don’t like a lot of people around.”
Hitting the field these days is possible thanks to care Larry is receiving at Sanford Health.
“I just had a little bout of A-fib (atrial fibrillation) that started about three years ago. Got it under control with medicine now and no problems. I feel good,” Larry said.
His cardiologist even travels from Sioux Falls to Huron to see him sometimes and he “couldn’t say enough (good things) about her.”
‘The future is very exciting’
Embracing technology, Larry and wife Carol communicate often with their Sanford Health providers using My Sanford Chart on their smartphones.
“I’m not real techy. It’s very friendly to use and I can ask questions. Send them a note and I usually have a response within three, four hours,” Larry said.
Hoping for more innovation in the future, the family is excited about the proposed merger between Sanford and Fairview.
“I think the idea of virtual health care in the future is very exciting,” Carol said. “As we age, what if something happened? What would we do? To think that you could go online, literally, and visit with a physician, that would be remarkable. That would be very good.”
Larry and Carol are also interested in the opportunities it may bring for employees.
“I know Leigh has a heart of gold,” Larry said.
Leigh’s dad isn’t surprised she landed on nursing as her calling.
“It’s going to be really exciting to see what happens and what kind of opportunities there will be for not only myself as an employee but for our patients too,” Leigh added.
- Rare-disease patient is a regular at Sanford and Fairview
- Sanford and Fairview Health announce intent to combine
- Telemedicine, virtual care save rural patients time