Hometown: Fort Peck, Montana
She thought she wanted to become a teacher, but instead found her passion in nursing. From there, she's become a leader and innovator in one of the toughest areas of St. Vincent Healthcare, the newborn intensive care unit or NICU.
Originally you wanted to become a teacher, but instead pursued nursing. How did that switch come about?
Growing up I wanted a job that would give me the ability to help people and make an impact upon them. I began college pursing an educational degree. In the summer of my second year, I became a certified nursing assistant. After I began caring for and interacting with patients, I knew nursing was my true passion.
How did you choose Billings as a community to live in?
I am a Montanan. Billings is a large community with a small-town feel. It truly is the people and the relationships I have created that make me want to call it home.
You work in one of the most challenging, stressful parts of the hospital, the NICU. How do you manage that stress?
The NICU can definitely be a very stressful environment but at the same time can be one of the most rewarding. We see miracles and success stories every day. To manage the stress and challenges, I focus on the positive and doing the best I can in that situation -- always taking a deep breath, take things one step at a time and always lead with a smile and a positive attitude. To de-stress away from work, I enjoy running, yoga, and spending time with family and friends.
What is a good day on the NICU?
A good day is when you are able to celebrate with a family as they take their baby home oftentimes after weeks or months in the NICU.
Who serves as your inspiration?
I have so many individuals in my life who inspire me. My NICU inspiration is, without a doubt, my nursing team. These nurses work around the clock providing the best care for our babies and families. From providing critical nursing care to taking extra time to create memories for families, they go above and beyond. The NICU team truly loves the work they do and it inspires me to be the best leader I can be for them.
Tell us about the NICU graduation party that you hold every year.
The NICU graduation party is an annual event when all of our past patients and families we have cared for are invited to a celebration. We have formed such a connection during their stay in the NICU it truly is special to see how our patients and families have grown and changed from year to year.
Tell us about the “cuddler” program that you helped start at St. Vincent.
At St. Vincent in 2017 we developed a NICU “cuddler” program called SPROUTS. It is a volunteer-based program. Volunteers receive specific training to interact with our babies such as therapeutic touch, cuddling, hand swaddling, and reading. It is not the intent of the program to replace the loving touch or interaction of a parent, but rather to provide an additional level of care to improve a baby’s outcome.
Why is yoga something important in your life?
Yoga is my outlet. I began practicing a few years ago and fell in love, so much, I became an instructor. Yoga allows me to disconnect, clear my mind, and do something great for my body.
What did growing up in a rural area teach you?
I am grateful to have been raised in small town Montana. It keeps me grounded. Rural life taught me an appreciation for people and the importance of a great community. In my own job it gives me perspective on so many of the challenges that face our patients and families, whether it be travel distance, limited resources, or maintaining a ranch during a hospital stay.
What is your guilty pleasure?
A fabulous dinner, dessert, and wine. You must indulge once in a while.