Allen College Class of 2007 – Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Allen College Class of 2012 – Master of Science in Nursing
Currently, I am the Waterloo Regional Ambulatory Vice President for UnityPoint Clinic and UnityPoint Health and have been in this role since 2015. In the past, I have held various roles within the Waterloo UnityPoint Health region including Director of Population Health and Continuum Strategy, Program Director of Inpatient Rehabilitation, House Supervisor, adjunct nursing faculty member at Allen College, Director of Digestive Health Services, Nurse Manager for Cardiac Stepdown, Centralized Monitoring, and the Chest Pain Center, and I began at Allen Hospital as a staff nurse in the ICU. Beginning in January, I am looking forward to being the Chief Nursing Officer for UnityPoint Health – Waterloo!
What led you to pursue your education at Allen College?
When I was 27 years old, I had a significant back injury that required surgery. While my surgery went very well, my hospital stay left a lot to be desired. I wasn’t treated like a person, I was a patient, and the experience was not one I would wish for anyone else. I kept thinking to myself that I could help, that I could make healthcare better somehow. A few weeks later, while recovering at home, much to the surprise of my family, I enrolled at Allen College. Hands down one of the best and most pivotal moments in my life. Nursing and healthcare leadership have transformed who I am. I know that the work I do is valuable to our community, which is all I can ask for.
How did Allen College help prepare you for where you are now?
Allen College is an exceptional nursing program, it not only prepares you clinically and academically, but it prepares you to be a leader. A leader in nursing, but also beyond, in your whole life. Many of my nursing colleagues have gone on to really amazing roles in so many different facets of nursing and of leadership. I think Allen College is well known across the Midwest as a program that produces professional, competent, ethical and innovative nurses. Being an Allen College graduate is something I am very proud of. When I see friends of my kids are attending Allen College I get so excited!
Any accomplishments, awards, or proud moments?
My proudest moments are when I can help my team accomplish things they didn’t think they could; watching them grow and excel is what fills my bucket.
- An example, our team changed the urgent care experience in our region nearly overnight. We reinvented our two existing urgent care sites, added two more, and introduced all four in quick succession. We quickly climbed to the 99th percentile for patient experience and created average 28-minute door-to-door times for our patients. Our provider and employee engagement scores also went through the roof. Our initiative has been so successful that our entire system is busy copying it across our nine regions and we have added two additional sites, with a total of six, all performing very well.
- Another example is that six years ago, we started with an idea and 20 acres of bare ground surrounded by cornfield. Our idea was to establish a large, coordinated, centralized outpatient facility in a fast-growing community that had previously been served by a random collection of care sites and services. Our idea, Prairie Parkway, turned into a multi-million dollar, 90,000 square-foot facility that has rapidly redefined outpatient care in the heart of growth for our entire market. My team was there from business plan to pro forma; approvals to fund raising; building project to occupancy; and ultimately coordinating care in ways that are redefining outpatient care for our region. In 2017, our first year of operation, we outperformed our projections by nearly 20% and were able to care for over 100,000 unique individuals. In 2018, we cared for 132,000 people. That’s almost vertical growth in a site that was bare ground just two years before. Prairie Parkway finished early and under budget and has surpassed our patients’, employees’ and providers’ expectations in every way. We are exactly where we should be to help the community continue to grow and prosper, and the community continues to repay our investment in them.
Share any hobbies or interests
I have an awesome husband, TJ, that works at Deere, and three amazing kids, Alissa (24, Health Teacher), Tyler (22, Supply Chain Manager), and Kelsi (21, UIHC Student) and a Puggle, Gunner. TJ and I live here in Waterloo. We are blessed to have a small pond in our backyard and it brings us a lot of joy, just sitting by the water reading a book or fishing or enjoying a fire with the kids. I enjoy a good glass of crisp Cabernet and good friends. I like to make crafts – if I am bored you can usually find me painting on something or redecorating a room. I have three sisters that I am very close with, we are all in service careers, and time with them is pretty precious. My favorite thing to do is hang out with my husband, kids and their dogs!
What piece of advice would you give to current Allen students?
You are embarking on the most amazing and limitless career. Nursing opens doors. It changes who you are in such a positive way. Allen College prepares you for all of that. Embrace it!
Anything else you want to expand upon?
My mantra is “GSD (Get Stuff Done)!” My personal mission is to just do the right thing and to never pass up a chance to help someone. I have a passion for nursing practice and population health. I love the UnityPoint Health mission, improving the health of the communities we serve, and I strive to bring that mission into every single decision. I love creating healthy cultures and work environments. I am passionate about having fun! I believe that we can work really hard and still have a ton of fun! My primary strength is ideation, which means I am driven by curiosity. I am always searching for ways to connect ideas and events to share something new and useful with everyone else. Healthcare gives me endless opportunities to play to my strength, and my education and experience give me the tools to shape ideas into results.