Kicking off 2024 is our first Nurse of the Month: Meagan Ulmer! Raised in South Dakota, she’s been in the unique position of working for Tribal Health since our very beginning: “I’ve had fun watching it grow and watching my coworkers grow with company.”
Hi Meagan, thanks for speaking with us. I know you’ve been with Tribal Health for a while. Where do you work?
I started at Pine Ridge in 2016, then came on board with Tribal Health in 2017.
Mostly I work at Pine Ridge, but I’ve also worked out of Rosebud and Sells. Pine Ridge is home – but going to Sells was a nice break. I found the Sells community was a little more laidback. The patients are very respectful and they listen and ask questions to you as a nurse. It was a really nice experience.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
I grew up in my hometown’s nursing home, where mother worked a CNA for 30 years. I worked as a CNA myself and then the next step was getting my RN. Becoming a registered nurse seemed like the best investment so I embarked on that journey – and that journey led me to Tribal Health.
What’s your favorite part of being a nurse?
Working with Tribal Health, I can work with communities that have great needs. Knowing I can impact someone’s health experience for the better is important; hopefully I can make a difference in a small way every day. That’s one of my favorite parts of being a nurse.
Do you ever train nurses new to serving on Indigenous lands?
Yes. In Pine Ridge and Rosebud, I’ve been a charge nurse; and in general, the more experienced nurses try to take new nurses under our wings and explain the different disparities and traumas these communities face. We as nurses play a valuable role in their healthcare needs. When we understand those disparities and the intergenerational traumas the patients face, we can better help them through their healthcare experiences and outcomes.
So if you met a nurse who was new, what advice would you give?
Come with an open mind. Come with the willingness to learn about the community and traditions, because that can improve how you care for these patients.
Also know that governments through treaties have guaranteed the patients’ right to healthcare and we get the opportunity as nurses to serve that.
Last, don’t forget to take time and enjoy the sunsets and sunrises. They are quite captivating on the reservation.
So is there good team camaraderie at Tribal Health?
Definitely! I have to give a shoutout to John who calls me on my birthday every year – and to having strong women like Morgan and Whittney as CEO and President.
I love working with the physicians and the APCs and the nurses. We have the same stressors, challenges, understaffing, and difficulties, and we share the same commitment – and some dark humor! And we come together to do the best we can to provide for these areas.
That sounds really nice. What you do for fun when you’re not on the job?
I enjoy spending time with my family. I have 4 four boys, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter. I enjoy exploring the Black Hills, traveling, going to museums, and anything that involves water. I love swimming, and being on the lake or the ocean.
Thank you, Meagan!