New health administrator takes helm
WORTHINGTON -- Growing up on a farm near Hartley, Iowa, Terri Janssen recalls her dad suggesting she could either be a nurse or a teacher when she grew up.
She smiles now at the memory -- and at the fact she did settle into a career in healthcare.
Janssen began her new duties June 24 as Nobles County's Community Health Administrator/Health Services Supervisor. She will oversee public health programming and is already in the process of learning how the agency can improve to meet the needs of the county's population.
"I've got a great staff, I can tell, here -- a very well-versed, very knowledgeable staff," she said. "We do have the advantage of many years of public health experience here, which is huge."
Janssen's introduction into healthcare came at an early age, when she became a candy striper at the small community hospital in Hartley. From the age of 14 until graduating high school, she performed the tasks assigned to candy stripers.
"We did everything," she said. "I learned a lot and absolutely loved it."
After high school, Janssen earned her Licensed Practical Nursing degree from Iowa Lakes Community College, and then moved to Worthington shortly before getting married in 1975.
Her husband, Randy, was in the family business of operating the Bandshell Music Shop on Oxford Street.
She worked part-time at Worthington Regional Hospital while raising a family -- the couple has three children -- and when her husband became ill in 1985, she decided to return to school for an advanced degree.
At the time, she was already working for the local ambulance service and doing a variety of nursing jobs.
"I did home health, respite, intensive pediatric home care; I did disaster nursing with the American Red Cross -- I did whatever I could do to keep the family afloat, so to speak," Janssen said. She chaired the local Red Cross chapter in 1992, when the tornadoes struck Chandler and Lake Wilson.
Janssen was a student in the first satellite program offered in Sioux Falls, S.D., through the University of South Dakota. In addition to earning her Registered Nursing degree, she completed the community health component in 1999.
Later, she took additional satellite courses in Spencer, Iowa, that were offered through the University of Iowa's College of Nursing. Through that program, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 2002, and also completed a public health component.
"In 2002, my preceptorship with the University of Iowa took me to St. Paul," Janssen said, adding that with the experience and connections gained there, she was hired as a full-time nurse with the Forest Lake school district. Meanwhile, she'd accepted a part-time position with Fairview Hospitals.
After four years with the school district, Janssen said her job was eliminated. Fairview hired her full-time at that point to be a nursing supervisor.
"I learned so much, and I had great experiences," Janssen said, but after the hospital began centralizing and reorganizing departments, her job was eliminated once again.
After a brief stint with Stratus Health, a state-led Medicare quality improvement program, in Bloomington, the Janssens decided to return to Worthington to be closer to family. They returned to the community in October 2010.
Initially, Janssen worked as director of nursing for the Good Samaritan Society in Luverne, but to avoid the commute during the winter months, she accepted a job with Golden Horizons. She worked there and became involved on the Nobles County Community Services Advisory Committee. That's where she learned of the county opening with community health.
Now, as she settles into her new role, Janssen said she also continues to work part-time at Avera Medical Group Worthington. She started working there part-time in January 2012.
"I often say that the best thing I ever did was leave and come back," she said. "It helped me to understand that there's more than one way of doing things.
"I'm so satisfied with the education route I took, the experience I've had and all the mentors along the way," she added.
Janssen said two of her biggest cheerleaders were Warren Gordon, a pharmacist and owner of Gordon Drug in Worthington years ago, and Dr. Charlie Fitch, among many others.
"I would not be in the position I'm in today if it were not for some key people along the way," she added. "I'm on a new journey in my nursing career, and I'm excited."
The Janssens' three children include Alesha (Rob) Carstensen, Worthington, Aaron (Stephanie) Janssen, Sioux Falls, and Angela (Erik) Grant, Whidbey Island, Wash. They have eight grandchildren.
Her husband, Randy, works for Goodwill in Worthington.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.