Meet Our December Nurse of the Month: Katie Schindler

This month we profile a beloved face in our Great Plains facility – Katie Schindler!

Katie, thanks for speaking to us. So we know you work out of Pine Ridge IHS – how long have you been there?

I’ve been at Pine Ridge for two and a half years. Before that, I flew for medical air rescue and we flew into Pine Ridge a lot. So I was familiar with it.

Was it a transition?

It definitely was. But I work with a ton of great people here, which always makes life more enjoyable.

Can you tell us about any memorable experiences?

I had a patient that I took care of when I worked in ICU who I’ll never forget. I ended up taking care of him from the start of his stay to when we transferred him out months later to a long-term acute facility in Sioux Falls.

During that time, I formed a relationship with him, his children and grandchildren to the point that once he left, we maintained that relationship. I actually took my girls out with one of his sons and his wife and we went deer hunting. I shot a deer on their land in Wyoming.

It was one of those things that in healthcare we don’t get to experience too often. He’s since passed away, but I still am in contact with his kids and grandkids.

Katie, what do you think makes a good nurse – in terms of important qualities or characteristics?

I was on the other side of it with a family member, where we were left in limbo with a lot of questions and unknowns. There was different information in terms of what could be done, what couldn’t be done. There were some nurses who were very cold and task oriented. It was extremely stressful. It really made me think of what it must be like for a patient with no medical background – the fear and confusion that must happen in their minds.

So I mentally put myself in that family member or patient’s position and do what I can to be more of a patient advocate. My goal is to make the patient feel safe. That means doing what’s in my control, such as speaking to a physician or going further up the chain to Dr. Shankar. Essentially, doing what I can to take that scary part out of healthcare, because healthcare has just become so big with so many different teams – and the patient and their family are the ones who pay the price for that.

What advice would you give to nurses?

Keep an open mind. The people you’re dealing with are often times in complete crisis and they may say things and things that are hurtful or rude. Chances are, it’s probably just the situation that they’re in.

And make sure that you have a balance outside of work, whether it’s your coworkers or your home support system. Having an outlet where you can let go of what happened during that day is so valuable.

What do you like about working for Tribal Health?

Here in Pine Ridge, we are a little family. We all go through it together. Yesterday we were extremely busy, but everyone was trying to pull together. We still managed to have fun and joke around. That’s so important.

You know, I’ve done all kinds of different jobs and travel jobs. And I can say probably this is the first position that I’ve been in that I’m not thinking, oh man, I have to go to work. Instead I look forward to going to work with the people that I work with.

Finally, we have regulars who we bond with. We see our regular every day or two and they know you by name and that part is kind of neat. This atmosphere is so much friendlier than other workplaces I’ve worked in – it’s more of like a family, which is nice.

Thank you, Katie!

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