Inspired by her father, Ashley Stoepker ’15, knows first-hand how important it is to deliver compassionate care to someone in need. “My father is a paraplegic. Ever since I was little, I remember him being in and out of the hospital for different things. I knew I wanted to be a nurse to help people, just like those who were there for my own dad.” Learn more about Ashley’s story and her experience as a nurse in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at Spectrum Health below.
Tell us about yourself, Ashley!
I grew up in Middleville and went to South Christian High School. I graduated from Davenport University in 2015 with my BSN. I now work at Spectrum Health in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit as a nurse.
Why were you interested in the nursing program?
Before I was born, my parents were in a motorcycle accident that resulted in my father becoming a paraplegic. Ever since I was little, I remember him being in and out of the hospital, to doctor’s visits, and having home health care nurses visiting us at home. I was always interested in healthcare. Nursing was the only thing I wanted to do.
Tell us about your experience in the nursing program.
I enjoyed every minute of it, because I knew I was finally on the path to achieving my lifelong dream. Our class was a very close group, and we spent a lot of time together, even outside of classes. We became family and now I run into many of the people I went to school with at Spectrum. Not only did I get a great education, I also met the man of my dreams.
How did you meet your husband at DU?
My husband and I were friends and classmates for about a year before we even started talking. During summer break, a group of our nursing classmates went skeet shooting. He is a big outdoorsman, so he set up the event for us in May of 2013. We went down to Yankee Springs for the event and we invited everyone over to my parents’ house in Middleville for a cookout afterwards.
I will never forget the day he met my parents. He was extremely polite. He took off his cowboy boots before he entered our house and shook my dad’s hand. My mom said “You need to pursue him!” and the rest, is history! We graduated on April 26, 2015 and got married two weeks later. We then went on our honeymoon and came back to study for the nursing licensure exam, the NCLEX. It works out great because he is a nurse at Butterworth as well and we work nearly the same schedule.
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I work at the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center, in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. Our floor is responsible for taking care of a variety of patients, including those who just had major open heart surgeries and heart or lung transplants. I couldn’t ask for a better job because I’m an adrenaline junkie who likes to stay busy at work and think on my feet. We are able to treat critically ill patients with the incredible technology that is available to us. If a patient’s heart is failing, a temporary device may be used to help, or a ventricular assist device (VAD) may be implanted so they can live a fairly normal life again. This is just a small picture of what we do. It is amazing what can be done with medical technology and it is also extremely humbling.
What is your dream job?
I feel like I am already in my dream job where I am now! I never make it through a shift at work without learning something new, and I rarely have a “boring” night at work. I would love to become a flight nurse for AeroMed in the future if I get the chance.
What do you do when you are not working?
I enjoy backpacking, traveling, and going to our family’s cottage up north. We just visited the Smoky Mountains for our anniversary, where we spent the week hiking.