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Rural Health Nurses Share Commitment to Caring for the Community

Nurses are the heart of every hospital. When you’re a nurse in a small community, that care becomes even more personal. You’re caring for people you know, people you grew up with. You see them around town at the grocery store or in the corner coffee shop. Providing compassionate care for the community hits close to home for many rural nurses.

For Jena Henning, a nurse at Beaver Dam Community Hospital (BDCH), being able to work at her hometown hospital is special. “Providing care close to home means more to me because this is my home,” Henning said. “I was born and raised in Beaver Dam. I live here with my family, and now I’m providing care for the community that helped shape me.”

Henning earned her RN/BSN from Marian University in Fond du Lac. She’s been a nurse at BDCH since November of 2013, starting out in Medical-Surgical, but now she floats between the Intensive Care and Labor and Delivery units. She enjoys the variety of patients she sees, with no two days being the same.

Caitlin Guenther also grew up in Beaver Dam. “Being able to provide care to patients who live in our community is very special,” Guenther said. “You immediately build relationships. You feel a bond that comes from being part of the same community.”

Guenther works at Hillside Manor, BDCH’s long-term care facility. She earned her RN from Moraine Park Technical College and has been on staff with BDCH for almost 12 years.

Rural nurses hone their skills by working with patients at all stages of life. Beyond the altruistic feeling of taking care of their neighbors, both nurses stress the skills they have developed and put into practice at BDCH.

“All nurses are trained the same. There are no skills lacking because we are providing care to a smaller population,” said Guenther. “We are able to provide care through a continuum, from birth to death. We have a lot of opportunity through healthcare.”

“I really enjoy the science behind caring for my patients,” said Henning. “Determining the cause of illness in a collaborative manner and then delivering the bedside care - that’s what motivates me.”

Recent Daisy Award winners

BDCH is one of the more than 2,000 hospitals and health systems around the world honoring nurses with the DAISY Award. The DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune SYstem) Award is given to outstanding nurses who provide skillful, compassionate care. It was created by the family of J. Patrick Barnes after he died from complications of an auto-immune disease in 1999.

Each quarter a BDCH nurse who goes above and beyond the call of duty receives the DAISY Award.

Henning was nominated for the DAISY Award by a patient who stayed overnight after a surgical procedure. “It’s very special and rewarding to know a patient sought me out to nominate me for this award,” she said. “I was only with her for a total of maybe two hours, but our patients know we’re there with them all night, even if we’re not in the room.”

Guenther received a DAISY Award for the compassionate care she provided to a patient’s family when they needed it most. “I didn’t feel like I was doing anything extraordinary. I was being there for a family, on the last day of a resident’s life,” she said. “I wanted the family to be close, comfortable and heard. I gave them everything they needed, and even some things they didn’t know they needed.”

Challenges and Rewards

Working in a rural community can be challenging, but both Henning and Guenther say it’s more rewarding than they could have imagined.

“If you’re interested in a place where departments work together, nurses, doctors and nurse practitioners work side by side, where you can provide quality, complex care, consider a career at a rural hospital,” Guenther said. “You can build your skills and think and practice at a complex level when you’re in a rural health system.”

Henning echoed that sentiment. “You get exposed to all different kinds of care. You can have a positive impact on the local community, and see that impact first-hand.”

If you would like to learn more about a career in nursing at BDCH, click here. To nominate an outstanding BDCH nurse for the DAISY Award, submit an application here.

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