Sanford Worthington gets new director of nursing and clinical services
National Nurses Week was May 6-12.
WORTHINGTON — The United States celebrates National Nurses Week from May 6-12, but it’s never a bad time to thank a nurse, particularly given the challenges nurses have faced in the past few years.
“I love being able to take care of patients, taking care of the whole patient holistically, meeting their needs where they’re at in their health care journey,” said Kristin Olson, the new director of nursing and clinical services at Sanford Worthington. “As a nursing leader, I enjoy supporting other leaders who are taking care of frontline staff.”
Olson, who grew up in Aurora, Colorado, went to college at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, where she earned a psychology and business degree. Her interest in psychiatric patients led her to become a behavioral health tech on a behavioral health unit. She decided early on that she wanted to advance her career by going back to school and becoming a nurse.
She served as a nurse in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for 16 years, before moving to Rushmore last year to be closer to family, then taking the position of surgery nurse manager at Sanford Worthington.
As director of nursing and clinical services, Olson doesn’t do much direct patient care anymore.
“I think it's the best of both worlds when you can be a nursing leader and make an impact on the direct care provider and also as a leader in the organization,” she said. “I support the individuals who do have that direct care with patients.”
Nursing has faced a spate of challenges in the past few years, including the advent of COVID-19 and its ensuing staffing shortages, safety precautions and rapidly-changing best practices. And the usual challenges of nursing have persisted, too, as nurses continue to care for complex patients with chronic illnesses.
“It’s about helping people, making an impact on people’s lives, helping people to make positive choices for their lives,” Olson said. “At the end of the day you’ve helped somebody and made a difference.”
Nurses are there for patients in every kind of health situation, from emergencies to births to treatment for chronic conditions and preventative care that helps people find out about health issues before they become a major problem, she added.
She advised people to be proactive with their health care, seeking out preventative care such as regular visits to primary physicians and doing the recommended screenings.
Olson appreciates serving as a nurse in a rural community because of the way it allows nurses to see many different areas of specialty. Her nurses can be cross-trained in different areas and may practice nursing in the obstetrics unit, dialysis unit, infusion center, medical/surgery unit or the emergency department.
“It’s small enough that you know people, but big enough that there are opportunities to grow and advance your growth,” she said, noting that there are also leadership opportunities for those who want them. “We get to see and know our patients well.”
Olson encouraged people to go into nursing because of that opportunity, and because there is such a need for nurses.
“I feel like it's a calling to make a difference in people's lives,” she said. “There's a lot of pieces in it — you educate patients, you take care of their needs, you're along with them throughout their health care journey.”