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Nurses provide a variety of bed-side care and support to patients. They meet their medical, phyiscal and emotional needs, often forming life-altering relationships with their patients. Due to these special bonds, a handful of healthcare workers leave a longstanding impact on those around them and are noted to be the best in their profession. Here are Wyoming’s top three nurses of the year.

Janeira Hart — Central Wyoming Hospice & Transitions Program

How long have you been a nurse?

I have been an RN for four years.

Why did you decide to pursue this profession?

For me hospice nursing was a calling. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to provide compassion and dignity to patients at the end of life. Hospice truly is the heart of nursing. It’s very gratifying knowing that I get to make a difference in someone’s life every single day.

How long have you been at your current job?

I have been at Central Wyoming Hospice for three years.

What are your favorite parts of your job?

There are so many things that I love about my job, it would be impossible to list them all. I love that our patients are empowered to drive their own plan of care. I love the holistic and comfort-based approach to care. I love being out in the community helping patients achieve their end of life goals even when they seem impossible to everyone else. Lastly, I absolutely love the team of people I get to work with. They are the best!

What are some challenges with your job?

One of the biggest challenges to my job is not getting services started soon enough. Hospice requires a six month or less prognosis and too often we are admitting patients that are literally in their final hours of life. The goal is to get services started sooner rather than later to ensure that patients and their families have the opportunity to take advantage of the full realm of services available.

What advice would you give to new nurses?

Always, always advocate for your patient.

Nomination:

I first met this nurse as a new graduate nurse in 2013. Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with her closely at CWHP. I’m lucky to know many skilled, fantastic nurses, but this nurse’s compassion and love exemplifies what every nurse should be. As the hospice referral RN, she walks families through one of the hardest decisions they can ever make. Most of the time these families are in complete turmoil as they’ve just been told their loved one is dying. She goes in with an open heart to educate and listen. And she always comes back saying, “I’ve just met my favorite patient ever!” Her compassion and heart amazes me. I’ve had to fill in for her a few times, so I know what an emotional job she has. (I could never do it.) However, she always has a smile. She sees her job as an advocate to honor the patient’s wishes no matter what those are.

— Kilty Brown

Michelle Ferree — United States Department of Veteran Affairs

How long have you been a nurse?

I have been a nurse for 12 years. I graduated from CWC in 2006.

Why did you decide to pursue this profession?

I decided to pursue this career because I love to help people and I love to learn. I started out as a certified nursing assistant and worked my way to RN.

How long have you been at your current job?

I started my current job in January of this year.

What are your favorite parts of your job?

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Some of my favorite parts of my job are listening to patients and finding new ways to assist my patients. Not everything can fit into a ‘one size fits all’ box.

What are some challenges with your job?

Some of the challenges in my job are finding assistance or programs for patients in rural healthcare.

What advice would you give to new nurses?

Continue to learn. There are so many avenues that nurses can explore and go into. Don’t settle. If one type of nursing is not for you, try another. Always remember why you went into nursing and why you want to assist/help patients.

Nomination:

I am nominating this nurse because literally everywhere we go, not just here at home but in all of the towns surrounding us, we get stopped by her patients, friends and family members. We even had to develop a secret signal so I would know when to walk away without saying anything to ensure patient confidentiality. Most of the time there are smiles and laughs. Other times there are tears. This nurse is such a sweet, gentle person. She makes people feel so comfortable with her they let their guards down and are not afraid to show how much she meant to them in their time of crisis or, unfortunately, loss of a loved one. Many of these people have not seen her for years and the impact of her care is still just as strong. It is really humbling to see how much she means to people. In her work as a home health nurse, I cannot count the number of nights she has left in the middle to go to her patients who are sometimes hours away, even when they told her it wasn’t necessary. She went just to set their minds at ease, often to comfort the patient’s family as much as the patient. She is truly a nurse for the whole family in addition to the patient. This nurse recently went to work at the VA in Worland. Now she is busy consoling families who are upset she will no longer be their home nurse, but many of her patients are vets who are happy to learn they can still see her. I am proud of her because she is already a wonderful nurse, but now she is excited to care for our vets as she embarks on new challenges. I would defy anyone to mention a nurse they know with more professionalism and concern for their patients. This person is truly a gift to those she treats. I know, because I witness dozens and dozens of conversations from a distance. On occasion I even get invited over to join in. Her patients and their families want to meet me and to tell me how much she means to them. It never fails to make me respect her more every time this happens.

— Russ Ferree

Kalle Thayne — Summit OB-GYN

How long have you been a nurse?

I graduated from nursing school from the University of Wyoming in May 2014, so I have “officially” been a nurse since I passed my boards that July.

Why did you decide to pursue this profession?

I have always loved blood and guts since I was a little girl. When I got older I knew I wanted to be in the medical field, I just didn’t know where in the medical field... then I became a CNA and knew I wanted to pursue my nursing career because I loved being a patient advocate. The summer after I was accepted to nursing school I was in a terrible motor vehicle accident where I sustained a spinal cord injury. My prognosis was that I probably would never walk again. For the first time, I was the patient and got to be taken care of by the most amazing nurses I’ve ever met. I made it a goal I didn’t care what disabilities I had to live with from this injury but I was going to walk again. I spent two months at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado where they are known for being the best at rehab for traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. I was able to walk out of that hospital with a cane and I have never looked back. I knew I was meant to be a nurse from the second I was put in the hospital June 30, 2012. I am so proud to say I accomplished my goals and am able to work as a nurse today.

How long have you been at your current job?

I started working at Summit OB-GYN September 2015, so over 2.5 years.

What are your favorite parts of your job?

I love the doctors I work for, my nursing colleagues and caring for pregnant patients and patients with various women’s health issues.

What are some challenges with your job?

I have physical challenges every day from my spinal cord injury that most people would never even think about. Another great challenge is seeing women struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss.

What advice would you give to new nurses?

Set goals, study hard and be passionate about what you’re doing and you will be great wherever you are.

Nomination:

I am nominating this nurse because of the incredible courage and strength she has exhibited in her nursing career. When this nurse was going to nursing school, she was in a car wreck and suffered terrible injuries which resulted in paralysis of her lower body. While she was rehabilitating in Craig Hospital in Denver, this nurse continued in her nursing studies and graduated the following year, despite tremendous physical and emotional pain. She is truly one of the most caring, loving and compassionate nurses Wyoming could ever have. Her comforting demeanor and her professional nursing skills are valued by all of the patients who are tended to by this nurse.

— Cathy Ide

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