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Nursing at St. Luke’s: Making a Difference Every Day

Kathleen Lammers, nursing supervisor, St. Luke's Jerome
By Chereen Langrill, News and Community
February 28, 2018
Chanette Fretwell, director, St. Luke’s Nampa

Even as health care evolves, the value of great nursing remains constant. Nurses are on the front lines, helping patients navigate their greatest challenges while providing compassionate support.

Some of St. Luke’s longtime nurses recently reflected on their roles and the changes they’ve seen in their careers.

What change has surprised you most?

The invention of computers (that didn’t exist when I graduated) and the internet and information access revolution that followed has been the most surprising change in nursing for me. I love the accessibility of information now vs. going to the library and searching through every book to determine what the best way to care for someone is. – Kathleen Lammers, nursing supervisor, St. Luke’s Jerome

Culture of teamwork, transparency and accountability for staff and providers. Twenty-five years ago, it was very difficult to have conversations with peers and providers in regards to safety and communication. Thankfully, we have come such a long way on this journey and this is now the expectation. – Chanette Fretwell, director, St. Luke’s Nampa

The change that has surprised me the most is seeing how technology has changed the life of the nurse and the patient. The ability to do bedside tests, make a diagnosis quicker and keep patients out of the hospital has been amazing. In addition, our access to information about the patient is almost instantaneous; no more waiting for paper records or trying to interpret handwriting. Access to information about a medication or treatment is also readily available. The challenge is to always care for the patient, not the computer, and to continue to rely on our expertise and critical thinking when caring for the patients. – Pat Burton, director of operations, St. Luke’s Eagle Medical Plaza

Ben Slee, St. Luke’s Boise perioperative unit

How has the culture of nursing changed?

Patients have become sicker and severe illnesses have become more treatable. This has put a greater demand and responsibility on nurses. There has also been a more streamlined, protocol-driven care developed for all patients to treat hospital-acquired conditions such as deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis and preventing health care associated infections (HAI). These protocols have given the nurses more autonomy and have also improved patient outcomes. – Ben Slee, St. Luke’s Boise perioperative unit

Doctors in our department have agreed-upon standards that most of them use. When my patient has a low blood pressure and I am starting pressors (medication that elevates arterial blood pressure), I know that all of them have agreed-upon criteria with occasional exceptions which they will make clear to us. I don’t have to try to remember that Dr. A does it one way, Dr. B does it another. There is evidence-based theory behind how they are doing it. – Diane Shelton, St. Luke’s Boise intensive care unit

Nurses have a stronger voice. They have become part of the solution, bringing evidence and best practice to the bedside to improve patient care and patient outcomes. – Chanette Fretwell

Pat Burton, director of operations, St. Luke’s Eagle Medical Plaza

How do you navigate the physical and emotional demands of your job?

I have an engrossing hobby which allows me to totally escape. I play viola in a symphony and really credit it with helping me cope. – Diane Shelton

Without question, the nursing profession has become more complex and demanding, both physically and emotionally. I think it is really important as a nurse to evaluate your physical and emotional well-being in your current job routinely. … There are so many opportunities for nurses to pursue different jobs, and I think there is always a job nurses can find that is a good fit and is optimal for their emotional and physical well-being. – Ben Slee

Nursing is an extremely demanding job. The emotional and physical demands can impact your personal life significantly if you do not ensure you have an outlet. As a staff nurse, being physically fit is very important – exercising for strength and an outlet for stress is important – core and back strength are priorities. I enjoy my family and friends, love summer barbecues, volleyball games and water skiing. – Chanette Fretwell

Lasting for 42 years in nursing has been easy for me. I love what I do, and I am so glad that I was “called” to this practice. – Mary Mathews, supervisor, St. Luke’s Magic Valley

What inspires you to continue working in nursing?

There are not too many jobs where every day you go home feeling like you made a difference in a person’s life. I recently had a patient return to the Eagle Urgent Care to thank us for saving his life almost four years ago, when he was having a heart attack. He shared how grateful he was to our team for stabilizing him and getting him to the Cardiac Cath Lab at St. Luke’s Meridian. My nurse practitioner told him how we were just doing our job but he hugged my staff told us how we had changed his life. How lucky I am to feel like I had a part in saving a life and have a patient still touched by us years later.  – Pat Burton

My innate curiosity and fondness for trivia keeps me excited to learn about all the advances in science and health care. Working at a critical access hospital with awesome coworkers and physicians who are willing to teach keeps me engaged in my work. I also enjoy being able to work in a variety of areas. I learn something new almost every day.  – Kathleen Lammers

My inspiration comes from the patients and families I get to be involved with and the information I can share with the new nurses. – Mary Mathews

The trust a patient places in their care team is one of the highest honors we can receive. …Health care is a calling and a challenge as we continue to navigate the ever-changing health complexities and health care environment. This is what keeps me coming back; and the amazing team I work with at St. Luke’s. – Chanette Fretwell

About The Author

Chereen Langrill was formerly a communications coordinator for St. Luke’s Health System.