In their role as front-line caregivers, most nurses love their work. At Sanford Health, they are our most important assets, connecting patients with physicians, technicians, pharmacists, housekeeping and dietary staff.
While Sanford Health patients are served by hundreds of nurses across the system, here are a few of the stories that make all of our nurses special.
His mom was a nurse
Brady Carda’s mom has been a nurse for more than 40 years, but at first he wasn’t sure whether it was his calling, too.
“I have always been interested in helping people,” he says, “and I’ve always been interested in health care.” It became clear that nursing was where he belonged when he had the opportunity to work at the Sanford Health (then Sioux Valley) hospital in Vermillion, South Dakota, nearly 20 years ago.
Join the Sanford Health team: Apply online today
“The staff and providers made it feel like family,” he says of his co-workers. “I always felt very welcome, included and appreciated.”
So Carda went to nursing school. He started as a registered nurse in intensive care, clinics, and surgical and cardiovascular units at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “I found it very easy to fit in,” he says. “I don’t think I was ever treated like ‘the new hire.’”
He still feels that sense of family and belonging with his co-workers. Today, he is an inpatient nursing manager at Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
“I come to work every day and am excited to see and interact with the people here,” Carda says. “I am proud to call this my work family, and be part of what they do each and every day.”
She cared for docs when they were kids
In her 55-year career, Carol Wieneke has worked with generations of doctors. In fact, she remembers giving shots to a current physician when he was a baby, and babysitting another.
“The whole medical field is just so amazing. Back in the days when I started, a clinic office visit was $3, and OB (obstetrics) care and delivery was $90. We didn’t have MRIs, or CTs or ultrasounds. Even the lab work was very simple. Just a few tests. It’s just incredible how things have progressed.”
Wieneke’s job has changed a bit over the years, too. One of her proudest achievements was starting the triage program in the Luverne clinic, which she ran for 10 years. Today, it is a model for other clinics and remains a highly efficient part of clinical staffing.
After triage, Wieneke served as an outreach nurse for a number of years, and in 2011 she started in picture archiving and communication system (PACS) scheduling, where she works today. PACS handles scheduling for all hospital-based procedures, ensuring the prior authorizations are done, and the patients are educated on the various preparations, tests and procedures.
Read more: Nurse celebrates 55 years at Sanford Health
Ensuring safety from behind the scenes
Nurses at Sanford Health take care of hundreds, if not thousands, of individual patients each year. That’s their job. But a handful of other nurses work behind the scenes, providing a safe environment for clinic and hospital patients — and co-workers, too.
Julie Jacobson is an infection prevention specialist at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota. She’s been working at Sanford Health for 15 years, looking out for the safety of patients and employees.
“I think infection prevention is really challenging,” Jacobson said. “I think that’s probably one of the things that draws me to this because I do like a challenge, and I think it is definitely a challenge to do this because there’s such a wide variety of things that come through the infection prevention office.”
So what does an infection prevention nurse do? Basically, look for things inside facilities that could potentially put patients and employees at risk.
“I have to keep four things in mind, and those are the things that drive me each day,” Jacobson said. “Those things are: patient safety, staff safety, public perception of our facility related to infection control and, finally, the regulations that should all fall into place, if the first three are being met.”
Nurse residency reinforces career choice
Sanford Health recently unveiled a nurse residency program that is set up to make people like Baylee Groos feel better about their choice of careers.
Groos is an enthusiastic new nurse at Sanford Health. Together, she and her fellow first-year colleagues are making their way through the first months of what they hope will be lifetime careers in health care.
This 2019 South Dakota State University graduate anticipated fresh challenges. She understood — and gets regular reminders — that good nursing goes beyond classroom training.
“I didn’t feel like I knew nothing, but I felt like it was so different than the textbooks,” Groos said. “I spent a lot of time memorizing those textbooks and I’ve yet to have a patient during my orientation experience where I thought, ‘Yep, this is exactly out of the textbook.’”
Ultimately, Groos is not alone in making adjustments. Her new colleagues have similar stories.
It is why Sanford Health is introducing a year-long residency program for nurses. It will help bridge the gap from life as a successful nursing student to life as a successful nurse.
Read more: Sanford Health adds nurse residency program
- Search nursing job openings at Sanford Health
- Home care nurse crucial for families needing constant care
- Nurse supervisor grateful for clinic’s mammogram reminder