Although Marie Riemer is a hospital nurse manager at Sanford Hillsboro Medical Center, it’s unlikely that you’ll find her at her desk.
Riemer helps run the day-to-day operations of the hospital. One of her main tasks is coordinating patient admissions and creating discharge plans. But when others need help, she’ll be one of the first people there.
“My favorite part is when I get pulled back to the floor and I get to go and help out with patients and be at their bedside and work in the emergency room,” she said.
Riemer has been a nurse at the medical center for 12 years, first as a floor nurse and then over the past three years, in her current role helping lead nursing efforts.
Her dedication to caring for her community started in high school. After becoming a certified nursing assistant at the long-term care facility in Hillsboro, North Dakota, Riemer was offered the chance to shadow the administrator, but what she really wanted to do was care for the residents.
“There was a need on the floor to take care of the residents, and so I would come in for three hours before school and do my CNA work, and then of course, work weekends and different shifts,” she said.
Riemer not only looked forward to assisting residents with daily needs, but also working alongside her co-workers.
“I knew from that time on that there was really no other career path for me,” she said.
Leading a team
Today, Riemer helps lead a nursing team that includes ten full-time nurses, six PRN nurses and certified nursing assistants.
“The best part about it is that you’re taking care of your family, your neighbors and your loved ones,” she said.
Because the medical center is a small, community-based hospital with 15 patient beds, Riemer says each member of her nursing team has to be well equipped to provide care in a variety of situations, and even in the emergency room, on a moment’s notice.
“When it’s you, the provider and a CNA and you don’t have all of the specialties, you have to be really proficient in your skills,” she said.
And no matter what the day holds, patients always come first, says Riemer, along with supporting their family and loved ones.
“The more patients you see, the more people you’ve had an impact on and the more you realize how many people truly need care from a nurse or a medical professional,” she said. “And being in the not-so-fun situations puts this into perspective as well. But this is why I became a nurse. I want to help people and be a source of strength for them. I also want to be an educator for them and for staff too.”
Every day, Riemer also strives to be an advocate and a supportive presence for her nursing staff.
This has proven to be especially important during the pandemic.
“I try to make sure my staff knows that I am always available,” she said. “Anything that comes in, day or night, I’ll be there to help, whether they needed someone to bounce questions off or need me to help in the unit, we’ll get through it together.”
Through education and support, Riemer and her team now respond daily to COVID-19 as part of an established routine. Being able to adapt to a world health crisis is just one example of how nurses like Riemer must always be ready to serve their communities.
Since starting her journey with nursing, Riemer says she’s learned that the profession takes a lot of strength — both emotionally and physically.
“It’s taught me to definitely lean on co-workers and the whole team,” she said. “It’s important to be flexible because no matter what kind of day you have planned in your head, it’s probably not going to go that way. And, of course, you have to make the best out of every situation because you always have to do the best you can for your patient.”
The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. This designation honors the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of nursing, and recognizes the vital role of nurses around the world. At Sanford Health, we honor our nurses’ unique calling, compassion and commitment to patient and resident care.
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