Spencer Hospital nurses Melissa Brent, Colleen Hart and Jolie Threlkeld have been selected as three of Iowa’s 100 Great Nurses for 2019 and will be honored at a May 5 celebration in Des Moines.
The 100 Great Iowa Nurses program identifies 100 outstanding nurses every year whose courage, competence, and commitment to patients and the nursing profession stand out above all others. These nurses go above and beyond to contribute significantly to the profession of nursing. All three of this year’s honor recipients didn’t plan on nursing careers. Instead, it was almost as if through life’s pathways, the nursing career chose them.
Intensive Care nurse and educator Melissa Brent initially dreamed of being a marine biologist, yet she started her career path into healthcare when she was working as a dietary aide in a care facility and fell in love with the residents. From that moment, her goals became clearer, first becoming a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), then a registered nurse. Brent is now working on her bachelor’s degree while serving as a mentor for younger nurses and educator to her peers.
“My passion is critical care and education,” Brent said. “I am honored to be able to care for patients and their families through some of their worst days and then onto recovery. What I enjoy most about ICU is you are constantly learning. I have also loved being a preceptor for the new ICU nurses and students. It is so rewarding watching them become the amazing nurse you knew they could be.”
Colleen Hart wanted to be an artist and earned a degree in art and education. She served as a childhood educator for many years, yet when she made the decision to leave her career to stay home with her young son, she still wanted to be of service so she volunteered for hospice. “I loved it,” Hart reminisced. “Being a volunteer for hospice instilled in me a desire to do even more, so I went to nursing school to become a hospice nurse.”
Once she became a registered nurse, Hart’s first job was on the medical-surgical inpatient unit, where she enjoyed interacting with patients and helping them in the recovery process. Yet, when an opening was available working for Hospice of Spencer Hospital, she eagerly applied.
When asked what she enjoys about her job, she sincerely responds: “I really don’t look at it as a job. For me it’s such a blessing and an honor to be part of the ending stage of a person’s life. I love listening to people and I appreciate the opportunity to care for them at this stage of their journey.”
The nursing profession and education often go hand-in-hand as demonstrated by all three of Spencer Hospital’s outstanding nurses of 2019, who either previously or currently, are educators. Registered nurse Jolie Threlkeld went to college to become a history professor, yet personal health issues revealed to her the impact nurses have on the healing and well-being of their patients. She became a hospice volunteer and was inspired to return to nursing school with the intent of becoming a hospice nurse.
In her senior year as a nursing student, Threlkeld conducted research for a capstone project on cancer care, piquing her interest in not only caring for patients during end-of-life stages, yet possibly providing treatment options for cancer patients.
“I fell in love with the field of oncology and care of cancer patients,” Threlkeld said. “Oncology is a continuously changing field of medicine that requires constant knowledge attainment and education, which I love. The connections formed with cancer patients and their families is a gift. I have learned so much about humanity and holism through those connections.”
Threlkeld serves as clinical supervisor at Abben Cancer Center of Spencer Hospital and currently is also going to graduate school fulltime to become an oncology nurse practitioner.
Through their induction into the 100 Great Nurses, Brent, Hart and Threlkeld join several other Spencer Hospital nurses who have been selected for the honor previously:
Previous 100 Great Nurses honorees from Spencer Hospital
Marcia Larson – 2006
Linda Casey – 2009
Judy Fox – 2009
Deb Johnson – 2009
Francel Graham – 2010
Mindy Sylvester – 2010
Dee Vaage – 2011
Laura Armstrong – 2016
Colette Rossiter – 2016
Ben Armstrong – 2017
Laura Manwarren – 2017
Brenda Tiefenthaler – 2017
Joyce Tewes – 2018
Jeri Wescott – 2018
Melissa Brent – 2019
Colleen Hart – 2019
Jolie Threlkeld – 2019