Paper names Beckie Oliver, R.N., one of Wyoming's Top Nurses
By Kristy Bleizeffer May 6, 2021
On several occasions, I have seen Beckie care for patients with so much compassion and empathy, I have thought to myself, ‘This is who I would want caring for me or my loved one.’"
Congratulations to Beckie Oliver, R.N., for being named one of Wyoming's Top Nurses by the Casper Star-Tribune.
In celebration of National Nurses Week, the newspaper selected 10 Wyoming nurses for the honor, and four of them work at Banner Wyoming Medical Center.
Beckie is a registered nurse on our Neurology Unit, and she was nominated by a physician whose family member was one of Beckie’s patients.
“(Beckie) helped us to see that, when navigating a new and fearful unknown, that the only way through was with each other, and one step at a time. She hugged us through our tears and gave us inspiration when we needed the strength,” reads Beckie’s nomination letter.
Read more about Beckie and her career in the interview below.
How long have you been a nurse?
In May, it will be 27 years that I have been a nurse. It's hard to fathom; it doesn't feel like it's been that long. I don’t feel old enough for it to have been that long.
How did you first become interested in nursing?
There was no huge defining moment. I'm very passionate about nursing, but there was never any big event that made me say, ‘Oh! I want to be a nurse.’
When I was nine, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a common autoimmune thyroid disease. I was young, which is not as common, and I just grew an interest in knowing what it was and what it was doing to my body. I researched it using encyclopedias from home. I was just kind of interested in what that pathophysiology was for me. In middle school, I went on to do a science fair project on myself and Hashimoto's disease. My endocrinologist told my mom to take pictures of me every month for a year, because I would be changing. And, oh boy howdy, I did.
When I was nine, I had not grown one inch but I gained like 20 pounds or something. And my dad was the one that said I needed to go see a doctor because he thought my thyroid was failing. Sure enough, it was an easy test, and I started taking a pill a day. Literally, that was it. By the end of the year, not only did I weigh less but I had grown something like six inches. So I made a whole science fair project with those pictures, which was hard to do because I was very vulnerable that year.
Then, when I was a senior in high school, I had a careers class, and we had to research what career we wanted to do and write a paper. I was looking through a book, literally, and ran across a black and white picture of a nurse that said $10-an-hour. I thought, I'd like to help people, and I like science. It is kind of weird to me to think that that's how I picked nursing.
How long have you worked at Banner Wyoming Medical Center?
It was three years in April. I spent the majority of my career in Douglas at Memorial Hospital of Converse County.
How has nursing changed during your career?
When I went to nursing school, I had not even been a CNA (certified nursing assistant). I walked in very very blind. I was 19 and the youngest in my class. The person closest to my age was, I want to say, 26. The hardest part of it was, I think my brain wasn't mature enough to learn that, that type of learning and critical thinking. I was still, you know, a teenager. I did muster through I passed my boards on my first try. I was in the last class to take written boards.
When I graduated, there was not a nursing shortage like there is now. I could not get a job in my hometown of Douglas. The director of nursing there told me I was too young, actually. So, I went to Nebraska. I was the first new grad hired in Chadron, Nebraska, in years and years. About a year later, I returned to Douglas.
Why do you think there is such a nursing shortage now?
You know, I think bedside nursing is hard. It is. I would say it’s more emotionally challenging than what people believe it is. I think people hear that nurses may work three 12-hour shifts and think easy peasy. Well, it's not easy peasy. I don't have any trouble, but on my days off, I am tired.
I think patients are sicker now than they used to be. With medical advances, we are saving more people, but they require more nursing care. I think some people are getting burned out faster. So whether they leave the field of nursing or go to a clinic or something less strenuous, that probably has an effect.
Well, what has kept you at the bedside for so long?
The challenge every single day is different. There is never a day that's the same. You'll never get bored in nursing. I like to learn, too, and so every day I learn something new or teach myself something new or teach something to somebody else.
My heart is just about taking care of people. It's who I've always been. And when I can't do that, it's just like I'm missing a piece of me.
What do you think about working on our Neuro Unit?
First, I work with a slew of very smart people – from the CNAs to the nurses to all of the providers. We are a team. It's not a triangle where the doctors are on the top and the CNAs are on the bottom. We all contribute to the team, we all respect each other and listen to each other.
The neuro nurses here are incredible. When I first started here, there were five new grads that were hired about six months prior to me. I had no clue they were new grads because of how skilled they were. We have top notch nurses on this floor, and I think we all care about each other. You know, you're at work as much as you're at home, and when somebody needs something, we're there to help them.
The doctors are very, very respectful of the nurses here, and it’s just a different culture.
What did you think when you heard that you had been named one of Wyoming’s Top Nurses by the Casper Star-Tribune?
I was so excited. It's such a huge honor, and it validates the hard work I put into nursing. I have dedicated my entire life to this profession. I was a nurse before I was anything. I was a nurse before I was a wife, then a mother of twins then a mother of a daughter. It is quite amazing.
As a regional referral center, Banner Wyoming Medical Center covers about 250,000 Wyoming lives. We protect the health of our friends, neighbors, community and state. Does being part of that make you proud to work here?
I think we give outstanding care. It's a very different setting from coming from a rural critical access hospital. These patients are so much more sick, and the nursing care that we deliver here is very different. You have to be on your game.
You know, when I left Douglas, one of my biggest concerns was, ‘Oh my gosh, my people. I am not going to be able to take care of my people, my community, anymore.’ I was so wrong.
Just recently, after returning to work after neck surgery, we had 16 patients on the floor and I knew five of them. Every single day I work, I take care of or I encounter somebody I know whether they are from Buffalo or Glenrock or Douglas. I still get to take care of my people, and as a matter of fact, the area has gotten bigger. Now, I'm not just taking care of Converse County, I get to care for people I know from the whole state. Wyoming is its own community, and I feel it here at Wyoming Medical Center.