Paper names Katie Ferree one of Wyoming's Top Nurses
By Kristy Bleizeffer May 6, 2020
“ I am nominating Katie because of the astounding care she provided to me after my stroke. Katie was beyond compassionate, patient, and loving toward me. I couldn't move the whole left side of my body and I couldn't speak. I had a hard time understanding what people were telling me to do. Katie treated me humanely. — Anonymous
Congratulations to Katie Ferree, R.N., for being named one of Wyoming's Top Nurses by the Casper Star-Tribune.
In celebration of National Nurses Week, the Casper Star-Tribune selected 10 Wyoming nurses for the honor, and eight of them work at Wyoming Medical Center.
Kaite is a registered nurse on our Neuro Unit, and she was nominated by an anonymous patient.
"I know that I was not special and that Katie treats her all her patients and coworkers with kindness and respect. Her voice carries quite well so I overheard her talking to other patients and the other staff members," the patient wrote in her nomination letter. "If every nurse, and doctor had the same compassion and empathy this girl has health care would be totally reformed."
Read more about Katie and her career in the interview below.
How long have you been a nurse?
I started at WMC as a graduate nurse two years ago. I still work in the neurology department.
What type of nursing do you practice?
I am a neurology nurse. We take care of patients with strokes, seizures, traumatic brain injuries, bleeds in the brain and the layer surrounding the brain, encephalopathy, and much more.
It wasn’t like I really sought out to become a neurology nurse. I started here as a student, and found that this type of care resonated with me more than anything else I had been exposed to. When something is wrong with the brain, whether it’s a paralyzing stroke or life disrupting seizures, people are vulnerable and often unable to advocate for themselves. I get to be a part of the team that helps people and families navigate confusion, frustration as well as trouble shoot mobility and communication issues.
When did you first become interested in medicine, and why did you decide to become a nurse?
I don’t know that I picked nursing as much as it picked me. I took a CNA class in high school, and ended up working in a long-term care facility as a CNA. At the time, even though I enjoyed the work I didn’t think it was for me. I was highly interested in agriculture/natural sciences, but in the end that didn’t mean as much to me as physically providing care to those in need.
Do other members in your family work in health care?
Both of my grandmothers and grandfather worked in health care.
What is your favorite part of the job, and what are some challenges you face?
I love helping people recover from strokes. I have a theory that only really tough people have strokes, because the challenges that come after having a stroke are not for the weak. The resilience I see in my patients is why I do this. Nonetheless, people can inevitably become hopeless. The mental challenges is a huge part of what makes recovering from a stroke so hard. The compassion, empathy and patience this takes is what I truly love.
What does it take to be a good nurse, in your opinion?
Compassion, work ethic, ability to be taught, and implementation of critical thinking.
What advice would you give new nurses or those considering a career in nursing?
Try everything, play the field, both in health care and in life. Understanding other’s life experiences will help you build connections and think outside the box.
As a regional referral center, Wyoming Medical Center covers about 250,000 Wyoming lives. We protect the health of our friends, neighbors, community and state. How does this make you feel?
This is actually a big part of what drew me to WMC. I love that when someone from my home (Thermopolis) needs a higher level of care, this is the best place for them to be sent. Furthermore, I am very proud of the efforts made to improve the health care of rural people in Wyoming. Particularly the telestroke program made possible by the neurologist and Melody Bowar. It is so unique and beneficial that people in small communities such as Worland, Thermopolis, or Lander can be treated very similar to those that live here in Casper.
How does it make you feel to know that a colleague or patient nominated you for this honor?
I am very humbled and feel very undeserving. I say that because I know that the main thing that allows me to provide good care is the team I work with. Our department has exceptional leadership and teamwork. This allows us to just care for people. When you feel valued you pass it on.
Anything else you'd like to add or would like your colleagues to know?
My manager, Tamara Thompson, is the standard every leader should be held to. Her ability to provide a safe space for learning and push people to exceed their perceived limits is unmatched. I could say something about every single nurse. Without them there are so many times I would have been lost. The same goes for the CNAs, clerks and patient sitters. Even as a nurse there are times when I go to them for advice. Each person has a different strength, and provides a unique asset to the team.
Wyoming Medical Center's Top Nurses
Eight of the 10 Top Nurses honored by the Casper Star-Tribune in 2020 are from Wyoming Medical Center. Read their interviews in the links below.