Meet Our March Nurse of the Month: Nicole VanderMay

Meet Nicole VanderMay, our March Nurse of the Month! A familiar face at Rosebud, Nicole talked to us about providing care on Indigenous lands and how she survived that epic South Dakota blizzard of last winter.   Hi Nicole, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been with Tribal Health?

I’ve been a nurse for 8 years, but I’m celebrating my 3 year anniversary with Tribal this month.

I worked with a couple of my coworkers at another facility who went to Rosebud IHS, and they talked about how fun it was and how much they enjoyed working with Tribal Health. They’d say, “you should come on the team!” It took awhile but I eventually took their advice and joined the team.

  Did you work on Tribal lands before? Was it a culture shock? No. I grew up an hour from Rosebud so I’ve always been around the area. What’s your favorite part of working on Indigenous lands? I enjoy all the new people I’ve gotten to meet. I’ve met some of the best coworkers while working at Rosebud with Tribal. And some really neat patients as well. It’s pretty rewarding to take care of the patients and know I’m doing everything I can to make a positive impact.   Did you ever want to do anything else? When I was little, I wanted to be a librarian! But I’m glad that nursing is the path I chose.   What do you do at Rosebud? Do you specialize in a specific area?

At Rosebud, I work in the ER – but resources are so limited, that when you’re in the ER there, that includes pediatrics obstetrics, geriatrics, and everything in between – you’re taking care of everyone and anything. So I wouldn’t say we specialize in any one thing, but we do a little bit of everything. There’s something new every single day.

I’m happy there for now but someday I might want to travel to another location with Tribal Health and see what it’s like to serve in other communities.

  So I have to ask… I heard you were there for the infamous blizzard that shut down the town.

I was! I was there for 8 days straight. It was a long week, that’s for sure. The providers have apartments on compound so we would trek back and forth through the storm and stay there.

  That sounds intense. What happened to the patients that got trapped there? A couple of times, we got lucky and the snowplow was able to bring patients home. Otherwise, discharged patients had to stay in the hospital until weather and roads cleared.  They would spend the day in the waiting room watching TV and at night we would find as many unoccupied beds as we could so they could sleep comfortably. When the weather cleared, CHR came and picked up loads of discharged patients and brought them home. We also had a lot of really sick patients that we could not discharge and had to wait for the weather to clear so we could transfer them to bigger hospitals for treatment, so we were managing critical patients for multiple days. It was definitely an experience, that’s for sure!   What’s your advice to nurses new to Tribal lands?

Be kind to everyone – patients and coworkers. You never know what they’re going through. You have to learn to leave work at work, and know that not every patient is going to like you and that’s ok.

  How do you deal with a patient who doesn’t like you or trust you?

I explain to them that they are there for help and I’m there to help them and if that doesn’t get through to them, sometimes they might like another coworker better and that’s ok! We work as a team to make them feel more comfortable.

  What do you do for fun when you’re not on the job? I spend a lot of time with my family. I have a lot of nieces and nephews and I love to cheer them on – I’m their biggest fan!   Thank you, Nicole!  

One Response

  1. Well done, Nichole! Nursing is not an easy field to be a part of with extra stress and care that you have to offer to your patients!
    This is a well deserving award I’m sure

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