Celebrating nurses: Q&A with Davenport nursing alumni

National Nurses Week (May 6-12) honors and celebrates our nursing community who work tirelessly to save lives every day. Meet some of our outstanding nursing alums and learn about their experiences in the field.

 

Kristi Bosman (Kuzdal)
BS Nursing ‘15​
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital | Grand Rapids, MI

How would you describe your job?
I am so blessed to be where I am. I am a part of a hardworking, awesome team, and surrounded by tiny little miracle babies! In the NICU, we specialize in treating ill and premature newborn babies. I specialize in working with our micro-preemie babies (those born less than 26 weeks and 6 days old) until they are big, strong, and healthy enough to go home! It is honestly one of the greatest honors to be able to walk alongside families and babies on their journey towards holistic health.

How did your Davenport education prepare you for the career you have today?
I appreciated the book learning and the sim lab/hands-on labs that were available at Davenport! Sometimes you had to push through your awkwardness to pretend the plastic people in bed were patients, but it was good! Also, I remember a professor having us learn a FULL head-to-toe physical assessment in our final lab and not letting us take any easy way out of learning it. It made me push to know it, and is something I use daily! That is just one example, but the short answer is Davenport pushed me!

When did you first feel the call to work in the medical field?
When one of my childhood best friends came home, I was helping her study to be in the medical field. I had this epiphany moment that went something like, “Wow! This stuff REALLY matters! I could help people if I knew this information.” So my passion then became fueled with not only a desire for people to know Jesus and have their hearts healed BUT ALSO a desire to know how to help their bodies heal!

What advice would you give to our nursing students?
The world needs who God made you be; you’re gifting, your heart, and your passion. Also, get some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise in between classes! It does a world of good to come back in refreshed!

 

Laura Bouwkamp
Nursing, BSN, RN ‘21
Registered Nurse at Pine Rest |Grand Rapids, MI

How would you describe your job?
I work in one of their acute units working with more severe patients. I took a float position at Pine Rest right after graduating to get a feel of which position I might enjoy the most.

How did your Davenport education prepare you for the career you have today?
I graduated feeling very well prepared. Most of my college education happened during the time of the pandemic. It was difficult not always getting that hands-on experience, but we persevered, and I was able to spend my last clinical rotation at Pine Rest before graduating.

When did you first feel the call to work in the medical field?
When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to do something in STEM. I have a sister who has her doctorate and nursing practice – similar to being a PA. I had the opportunity to shadow her and a few colleagues. I chose the nursing field because the need in the medical field will always be there. I enjoy that you can continue your education and go further in the field.

What advice would you give to our nursing students?
The role of nursing has changed dramatically in the last several years. Pay close attention in your classes and be diligent in your duty as a nurse.

 

Dawn Bass
AAS Nursing ’99
Nurse Manager of Outpatient Mental Health Nursing, Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center | Midland, MI

How would you describe your job?
I provide support and a voice for the nursing staff in outpatient mental health to ensure that they have the supplies, support, and environment needed to meet the VA mission of providing excellent healthcare to the heroes of our nation.

How did your Davenport education prepare you for the career you have today?
One of the most memorable experiences I had was in my leadership class near the end of the final semester of my education. We had a group project that required me to lead the group. I learned some valuable lessons in that group and thorough evaluation by the instructor. For one, you cannot make everyone happy. That may seem simple, but the experience in the group and the instructor’s guidance drove that home for me. I also learned that listening for understanding is crucial in leadership. I would not be the leader I am today if not for the foundation I gained through my education at Davenport.

When did you first feel the call to work in the medical field?
I was a teenager when my grandmother had a major stroke. She spent the initial weeks going from the hospital to rehabilitation, and then when she had plateaued, she went into long-term care. It was heartbreaking for me to see someone I loved so ill but what I noticed were all the staff who cared for her and made a difference every day, from nurses to physicians to therapists. Initially, I thought I would want to become an occupational therapist. When I finished high school and was going to start college, I became a certified nursing assistant and learned through that experience that I was my call to nursing. I went to Davenport for my LPN, then took the bridge immediately after completing my LPN to obtain my RN.

What advice would you give to our nursing students?
Our field of nursing has changed and continues to change drastically. The pandemic was something none of us ever thought we would experience. The lack of equipment/safety supplies, the fears of illness for ourselves and our loved ones, and the feelings of hopelessness as we watched those we cared for suffering and often perish caused anguish for nurses across the world. That said, I believe the future of nursing rests on the new nurses. We are on the cusp of really finding our value as healthcare providers. The sky is the limit; in what legislation and change can occur if nurses get involved and speak up. We have seen enhancements in pay, benefits, and work schedules (telework, compressed tours, hybrid schedules). It is important to continue this momentum, and that can only happen if we continue to be strong advocates for our profession.

 

To make a gift to support future frontline workers, please visit davenport.edu/give. Or contact Megan Shepherd, Assistant Director of Annual Giving, at megan.shepherd@davenport.edu, or call 616-233-3416.

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