Second-generation nurse leads in many roles

Chelsie Falk directs medical center, runs food program, works as EMT and more

Second-generation nurse leads in many roles

When you ask about Chelsie Falk, people have a lot to say.

“She’s always been a hard worker,” said Chere Rikimoto, clinical care supervisor at Sanford Wheaton.

“She’s just done an amazing job,” said Michelle Berning, nursing supervisor at Sanford Wheaton.

“She’s always willing to jump in and help out wherever and whenever anything is needed to be done,” said Melodi Krank, senior director of nursing, Sanford Health Network.

Falk is the senior director at Sanford Medical Center in Wheaton, Minnesota, and she truly does it all.

“She’s just a good role model,” said Krank.

Along with her leadership role in charge of the nursing staff in Wheaton, Falk also works as an EMT on the town ambulance, is the co-lead of a community food program, and she still handles patient care when needed, even if it’s in the middle of the night.

“If they can’t get an IV or there’s a trauma coming in or a chest pain coming in, and they think they need extra hands on deck, I live a block away, so I’ll pop on over,” said Falk.

In her blood

Chelsie Falk’s career as a nurse began in high school, but really it started long before that. Her mother, Chere Rikimoto, was a nurse first, and she passed down her career to her daughter despite a rebellious phase.

“I decided I didn’t want to be a nurse at the time because my mom had missed so many things. You know, she missed Christmas, she missed New Year’s, she missed birthdays,” Falk said. “After I grew up enough to realize that, you know, you can make those things up, it didn’t affect who I was.”

“In high school she was already a nurse aid and, you know, took all the hours she could get and worked on it a lot as well. So, you know, I think both of those things get in your blood,” said Rikimoto.

“Mom and I have talked about it and I think she knew that I had the nursing gene in me. Because I didn’t play with dolls. I put band-aids on them and changed their clothes and you know, that was about it,” said Falk.

Bringing it home

Falk spent time as a travelling nurse, including many years working in an ICU in the Twin Cities. She brought all of her knowledge and skills back to her hometown of Wheaton in 2013, and has been using them to better her community ever since.

“This is home. My brother and my sister both lived back here and my parents,” Falk said. “But my kids are growing up with their cousins and their grandparents and their aunts and uncles and life is easy here. It takes five minutes to pick them up from daycare. I can pop out at noon if they’ve got a little program going on and, you know, come right back to work.”

At work she thrives, helping her fellow nurses and most importantly her patients.

“There are times when we’re visiting with Chelsea and she’s talking about some of the work that she does and there, you can see that it’s always the patient is the one that’s most important to her,” said Krank. “She’s always willing to step up and do what needs to be done to take care of the people that live in the community that she works in, as well as the community that she lives in.”

“She’s always open for us to call her, whenever need be, day and night, anytime. And she will come and lend a hand,” said Berning.

“When she worked in ICU, she’d talk about some of the cases that were really tough. But she’s just always had it. She’s got her heart there for the patients,” said Rikimoto. “And I think at the end of the day, even in management, that was always my mantra was like, ‘What’s best for the patient?’ You know, if every decision you’re trying to make is the best for them, then things turn out pretty good. And she does. And she does.”

Highly decorated

Falk has been recognized time and time again for her service. There’s her Lamp of Knowledge Award for the vast experience she brought to her new role in Wheaton. The Community Service Award for starting the food program. And the Transformational Leadership Award for the way she leads her staff with her actions as much as her words.

“If we have a trauma right now, I would, you know, leave this interview and I would be hands on deck helping out in there and those kinds of things. And so I think leading by example is really important,” said Falk.

“Not everybody does just wake up in the middle of the night and go running. And there, Chelsie and that team they’ll do that, and I think as a leader, you have to be a leader that kind of models that,” Krank said.

“Watching her excel and know what other people think of her, you know, it’s one thing to be mom and be proud and really good, but have those awards, somebody else’s also seeing that,” said Rikimoto. “So it’s very rewarding. You feel like you’ve done something right yourself too.”

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Posted In Nursing and Nursing Support, People & Culture, Rural Health, Sanford Stories