Jena Ver Steeg is the nurse manager of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) services in Worthington, Minnesota.
That includes overseeing not only the OB/GYN clinic but labor and delivery, post-partum, newborn nursery and special care nursery which adds up to about 30 nurses and nursing assistants.
She’s worked her way up at Sanford Health since 2007.
“I started out as a staff nurse at the Luverne hospital and did general medical care which included [medical surgery], ER and OB. I have gradually transitioned to a variety of different roles with Sanford,” Jena Ver Steeg said. “I came to Worthington in 2010, I recently had a baby and Worthington was a shorter commute … worked here as a staff nurse in the labor and delivery postpartum unit. I’ve worked as our house supervisor. I then took a position in performance improvement, risk management, and in 2018, transitioned into my current position.”
She never intended on pursuing a leadership role.
“I never considered myself a leader,” Ver Steeg explained. “I was not the leader type. So, really never dreamed of this point in my career. But looking back, I see all of the little things and the nudges that people gave me to get me where I am and how much I’ve learned in getting here.”
Born to care
She grew up in a family of nurses and knew it was the career path for her when she was six years old.
“A tornado came through our hometown … we were about 15 minutes away from any ambulance service or emergency response,” Ver Steeg explained. “First responders and nurses — including my mom — in town were there to help.”
Though neighboring residents had mostly minor injuries, she recalls the rush and desire of wanting to be a caregiver in those moments.
“I remember not being allowed to be in my home, where they were caring for people, because I was only six years old and just wanting to know what was going on, wanting to be able to be in there and to see,” she said. “I truly never had any other career thoughts.”
Inspired, driven by respect
No matter who she interacts with, Ver Steeg said respect among colleagues is important to her.
“We don’t have to have the same mindset or background, but we can have a conversation and work together with respect for each other.”
It all comes down to that team approach to care for each patient.
“Truly what I love most is just that passion for helping others,” Ver Steeg said. “I’ve been able to do that both in the direct patient care role and then in leadership as well.”
Even though she sees fewer patients than in her previous roles, she feels the impact of care through her staff and knows she is still making a difference.
For that, she credits her mentors and others who saw potential in her to do more.
“There have been some phenomenal people who have helped mold me and shape me and helped me learn in the various positions that I’ve taken,” she explained. “I truly wouldn’t be able to be in this position without those people and that help along the way.”
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