Veteran finds perfect fit in new nursing career

Setting aside a business degree, Katie LeBrun, RN, is pursuing a new path at Sanford

Military portrait of Katie LeBrun

South Dakota Air National Guard veteran Katie LeBrun, RN, is settling into a new nursing career at the Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“I’m almost 29 and I just graduated from nursing school in 2020. It’s been a long road to get here,” LeBrun said.

The former captain and intelligence officer with the 114th Fighter Wing is currently working straight nights in The Birth Place at Sanford Health every other weekend.

LeBrun says it’s been incredibly fulfilling “to get to work with this patient population (mothers and babies) and experience that exciting moment in their life with them.”

A relatively new mother herself to 1-year-old daughter Amelia, LeBrun found joining the night shift fits perfectly with her family life. Her husband Joe farms near Colman, South Dakota.

“I always tell people that about being a nurse. You can literally find any schedule that works for the lifestyle that you want and still make good money doing it,” LeBrun said.

‘Doing something that was beyond myself’

Being of service to others is a key part of LeBrun’s makeup. When she was in high school in Montrose, South Dakota, she knew she was going to join the military.

“The day I turned 17 I was like, OK, I’m ready to go,” LeBrun, who was also in aviation resource and airfield management, said. “I like the thought of doing something that was beyond myself. Not just for myself but for other people.”

LeBrun spent nearly 10 years in the Air National Guard with her service wrapping up last November.

“I think that’s also why nursing interests me too. Going to work and knowing that what you’re doing there is of value to many people.”

While the military was top of mind for LeBrun at a young age, a career in nursing wasn’t. Her first foray into college led to a business degree from the University of South Dakota in 2015.

Feeling a pull toward health care, LeBrun put business to the side and spent three years as an EMT in Sioux Falls. Then, she reached out to an advisor at South Dakota State University about an accelerated nursing program.

LeBrun says people interested in nursing should begin “speaking with a couple different advisors (from several schools) and getting an idea what the program is like and figuring out what path you need to take to get into nursing school.”

She appreciates Sanford Health’s mission of being a resource and employer of choice for veterans and active military members.

“I grew up around here and I’ve always used Sanford for my personal care,” LeBrun said. “I definitely have firsthand experience with the type of people who are hired within Sanford.”

“(Sanford’s values) aligned with my morals and reasons for wanting to go to work.”

Sanford Health recruiting veterans

The organization offers scholarships and sponsorships to those with military backgrounds. There’s even a special website to help match servicemembers with jobs at Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society.

“Any person who’s been in the military lives life a little bit differently,” LeBrun said. “The minute you get back from basic training, your life is changed with the way you see things, the way you see others and the way you want to portray yourself to the outside world. I think it creates a good professional attitude for a nurse or any kind of professional person to display.”

With opportunities for advancement at Sanford Health, the leader is excited about her future. She’s also more than content with her current duty.

“Part of me would like to get back to that leadership position that I held when I was an officer at the base,” LeBrun said. “At the moment, I’m focusing on my family and enjoying my current schedule. Where I can spend all the time with my daughter I want.”

Learn more

Posted In Nursing and Nursing Support, Sanford Stories, Sioux Falls, Veterans