Nurses at LMH Health share why they joined the profession

photo by: LMH Health

LMH Health, 325 Maine St., is pictured in May 2021.

Every nurse has a different reason for joining the profession. The reasons run the gamut, but one thing holds true — nurses are an integral part of your health care team. Here are four of the nurses at LMH Health and why they each felt called to nursing.

• • •

It’s a moment in time that Tessa Wingert won’t ever forget. She had been in and out of the hospital when she was a child. During one visit, she was set to have an imaging study that required her to drink contrast. While there are different types of the oral solution, there’s one thing that’s true about all of them — drinking them isn’t a walk in the park.

“I had a couple of nurses, one who wasn’t so pleasant, but the other was patient, kind and explained everything that was happening,” Wingert said. “He didn’t seem bothered that it took me forever to get the contrast down. He made me feel safe and I knew I could trust him. That’s always stuck with me.”

She began her career in health care at an early age, working as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home when she was just 17. Wingert believed that a nurse’s job was to help people get better, so when one of her favorite residents began end-of-life measures, it was hard.

“As I got older and could reflect, it made me realize that nurses are important at every step of a person’s life,” Wingert said. “This one profession can have such a profound impact through all of those stages.”

Wingert earned a bachelor’s degree in human biology from the University of Kansas and a nursing degree from Rasmussen College. As her career progressed, she spent time working in nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and caring for patients with traumatic brain injuries. She recalled her interest in rehabilitation and helping patients get better, go home and function, which made a position on LMH Health’s post-surgical unit intriguing.

“I didn’t realize how much I loved surgery until I got to LMH, and I knew I wanted to stick around my unit,” she said. “I love motivating my patients. This work combines the skills I learned working in rehab with loving being able to help people get back to their normal function.”

• • •

As a teenager, Brianne Whitehouse wasn’t sure what career path she wanted to follow. It was an experience with her sister that lit a spark.

“I was at the hospital when my sister was giving birth to my niece,” she said. “Watching the nurses interact with her as a young mom and seeing the care and attention they gave her was really touching. That made a big impression on me.”

Whitehouse headed to college and planned on becoming a genetic researcher, but soon discovered that wasn’t the field for her. She began attending Baker University and fell in love with the nursing program. After graduating, Whitehouse jumped into the world of labor and delivery nursing.

“I worked in the obstetrics world for 15 years. Most people don’t realize that you see every stage of life there — birth, life changes and death,” she said. “I have the passion, empathy and a love for people. It’s needed to do this work. It’s a big part of who I am.”

When the COVID pandemic hit, the stress that many bedside nurses experience had begun to take a toll. Whitehouse could feel her passion for nursing slipping away, and it was time for a change. She stepped away from labor and delivery and totally switched gears, working in addiction medicine for a year.

Life is always changing, and Whitehouse needed to find a job that provided the right balance between work and family, especially with two busy teenagers at home. She found an opportunity to work at Lawrence OB-GYN Specialists and it felt like fate stepped in.

“I was doing a phone interview and learned that Dr. (Logan) Kracht worked here. I worked with him at Olathe Health and he was wonderful,” she said. “When I was in orientation, I ran into (midwife) Lara Rivera on a break and I had worked with her at St. Francis. Knowing they were both here was amazing, and it solidified that LMH Health is where I was meant to be.”

• • •

Katherine Postma loves being around people. Though she grew up in the small Kansas town of Effingham, her mother had seven children, so there were always plenty of people around. Postma knew that whatever career she entered, it had to be something that involved people.

Postma attended Meriden High School and opted to attend college close to home at Washburn University. She was accepted to nursing school and began following the path to a career at LMH Health.

“I did two semesters of clinical rotations at LMH and found that I really liked being here,” she said. “I had a variety of experiences on different floors, completing a rotation in medical-surgical nursing and my capstone in labor and delivery.”

After graduating from Washburn, Postma took some time off and spent it getting ready to take the NCLEX, also known as nursing boards. The NCLEX exam, or National Council Licensure Examination, is a standardized test that every state regulatory board uses to determine if a candidate is ready to be licensed as a nurse. After passing the exam, she moved to Lawrence and began looking for a job. She found a home at LMH Health Primary Care — Baldwin City.

“Besides being a CNA and school, I didn’t have a lot of experience and wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do,” she said. “Working in a primary care clinic is providing me with the opportunity to get the foundation to provide care to people of all ages.”

• • •

James Read didn’t start out intending to go into nursing. As he was going through school to become a paramedic, Read discovered that wasn’t really the right fit. Working a rotation in a hospital made him realize that nursing was something that was a little more up his alley.

One thing Read likes about nursing is that it’s a field with a variety of opportunities and specialties. After graduating from Neosho County Community College, he worked as a mental health nurse before moving to a position in a pediatric intensive care unit. After a few years working in the PICU and as a critical care nurse, it was time for another change.

“I began working in surgery at the LMH Health Main Campus in a PRN position. They kept me busy but I could control my own hours,” Read said. “That was particularly important since my wife works in the Emergency Department at Children’s Mercy. We could work opposite schedules to make sure one of us was home with the kids.”

After a few years in the surgery department, Read was ready for another challenge. When a remote RN position became available at LMH Health Primary Care — South Iowa, he decided to give it a try.

Read works with two nurse practitioners. A huge part of his job is managing their pools, which includes fielding calls, triaging their voicemails and messages from the patient portal. Read also proposes medications and handles requests from patients, pharmacies and mail order pharmacies for prescription refills.

He began working in the hybrid role in December 2023, and works either from home or in the clinic.

“The majority of my role is remote and doesn’t involve direct patient care,” he said. “I’m able to provide hands-on care when I’m needed, but for the most part I’m able to work from home so I’m there when the kids leave for school and when they get back.”

• • •

Nursing isn’t an easy profession, but it’s one that can be extremely rewarding. Whitehouse said that the days can be long and the path can be winding, so it’s important to remember your passion and desire to support people in each stage of their lives.

“There’s a lot of emotion in nursing and it’s important to have a balance outside work. You have to be able to reset and fill your own cup because you pour a lot into other people,” she said. “We’re here to make a difference and care for you from the moment you walk in the door until you walk out.”

Wingert shared an important piece of advice for anyone thinking of a career in nursing — remember your “why.”

“Figure out the reason why you want to be a nurse and cling to that, because there are times that it will be hard and you’ll question the choices that led you here,” she said. “Remember that it’s okay to not know everything. You’re not going to, and that’s okay.”

Postma agrees that recognizing you don’t have all the answers is important. Having a great support system at work is vital.

“You have to understand that people make mistakes and you have to be willing to learn from them,” she said. “I feel really safe working at LMH Health because my co-workers help me to learn instead of becoming upset with me.”

“It’s always easier to come to work when you have great people around you. Ever since I’ve been at LMH Health, everyone has been helpful and team oriented. It’s a great place to be,” Read said.

Whitehouse said the support from the community is evident and the trust patients have in the care they receive is clear.

“I work with amazing, compassionate staff. You can see that reflected in the care our patients receive,” she said. “Dr. Kracht has patients who come from a couple of hours away to see him for their care. You don’t see that in every health system. The connection between the providers and patients is unmistakable.”

Wingert is especially proud to work at a community hospital that is dedicated to providing care to everyone in the community, regardless of socioeconomic status or anything else.

“I believe health care is a basic human right,” Wingert said. “LMH Health is a community hospital and its mission stood out to me. I want to take care of anyone and everyone who walks through the door. Being able to do that is amazing.”

— Autumn Bishop is the marketing manager and content strategist at LMH Health.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.