Retiree leaves legacy of successful nurses

by Chris Quirk

Image

Karen Bess

In a venerable nursing and teaching career spanning 48 years, there’s little that Karen Bess hasn’t seen, sometimes more than once. 

“It’s interesting when something from the past — like the concept of group testing that we did in the 70s, for instance — comes back into the curriculum as it has recently, although in a different way,” Bess says. 

Bess will retire from Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College April 30. 

After receiving her diploma from the former Jewish Hospital School of Nursing in 1967 and taking the two-day paper-and-pencil Missouri State Board of Nursing exam for her registered nurse license, she began her career at the former Jewish Hospital as a staff nurse on the obstetrical unit. Over the next eight years, Bess worked there as nurse, head nurse and administrator, earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Saint Louis University on a full scholarship. She began her teaching career in 1974 at Jewish Hospital School of Nursing. 

Image

Karen Millican (Bess) in 1967

Though apprehensive at first, Bess warmed to teaching almost immediately. “My parents were both teachers, but I didn’t think I wanted to do it,” she says. “It was that era where lots of people didn’t like teachers as it wasn’t very cool, but once I started, I loved it. It was exciting.” 

As an instructor, and later assistant professor, Bess taught obstetrical and women’s health courses for 40 years. 

Throughout Bess’ teaching career, she often held concurrent clinical appointments and continued her education with a master’s degree in education and later, a master’s degree in nursing. Bess credits the education degree with helping her to expand the breadth of her work in the classroom. “We learned a great deal about the theories of education,” she says. “The instruction in curriculum development was also useful in terms of putting together courses and syllabi, preparing exams and clarifying objectives.” 

Bess’ students took advantage of her vast knowledge of nursing and teaching skills over the years. Mary Kay Michael, a former student who now works as a nurse in the special care nursery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, recalls the supportive aspects of Bess’ teaching style. “She was always very kind and caring, willing to help you when you needed it, and ready to listen at any time,” Michael says. 

Image

Karen Millican (Bess) talks with fellow nursing students at the former Jewish Hospital School of Nursing in 1967. | Courtesy photo

Bess says she worked to make students feel comfortable. “Many of them don’t have a lot of experience with infants,” she says. “It’s important for them to see what it’s like doing family-centered care.” 

The school will miss the way Bess taught and treated her students, her colleagues say. “I’ve had the privilege of knowing Karen for the past nine years,” says Gail Rea, Goldfarb associate dean of undergraduate programs. “Karen’s desire is that every student be successful. She takes interest in the students’ lives and personal accomplishments. Karen has freely shared her expertise and love for nursing with me, for which I will forever be grateful. She is one of the kindest people I know.” 

It’s not just colleagues and students who’ve been influenced by Bess’ expertise and love for nursing. Her daughter, Robin Welch, is a registered nurse in the OR at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. 

Bess is nostalgic about her lasting career at BJH and Goldfarb. “This is the only job that I ever really had, working and teaching at this hospital,” Bess says. “The people I know here have been like a family. I met my husband here; both of us worked here together for many years. I feel like I belong in that hospital, I’ve spent so much time there. That’s what I’m going to miss when I retire.” 

Vice dean of finance and administration also retiring

Image

Tom Edler

Tom Edler, vice dean of finance and administration at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College, is set to retire in May after 34 years of service on the Barnes-Jewish Hospital campus. 

Starting his career in the accounting department as the director of budgets and Medicare cost reporting at BJH, Edler has seen a lot of change throughout the hospital and the college. “One of my first tasks was to convert the budget process from a paper-and-pencil process to a computerized process,” Edler recalls. He spent 18 years working in various clinical departments throughout the hospital until joining the college in 1998. “The college has been constantly changing while I’ve been here. It has grown in student enrollment, as well as new programs and also a new building. It’s been fast-paced and exciting.” 

His colleagues say Edler has been a major contributor to the growth and success of the college. “I’ve worked with Tom for more than 14 years,” says Wade Lehde, Goldfarb information systems director. “His dedication to students, faculty and staff provided significant contributions to the college through times of transition and growth. Tom has been a true leader, doing his part to make the college what it is today, and his presence will be sorely missed. His sense of humor always provided release — seemingly at just the right time — and his knowledge of how to masterfully navigate through the BJH/BJC systems to acquire the resources the college needed has been extremely important to the college’s success.” 

“During my years with the hospital and college, I have been fortunate to work with a number of highly talented and committed individuals,” Edler says. “These are the people who make this hospital and this college great. They go above and beyond for the patients, for the students or for their colleagues. They are what I will miss most, but I know they will continue to take good care of my hospital and my college.” 

Join in celebrating Karen Bess’ and Tom Edler’s careers, 3:30-5:30 p.m. April 22, with a presentation at 3:45 p.m., in the lobby of Goldfarb Hall at Goldfarb School of Nursing. RSVP for the celebration by emailing GSON-RSVP@bjc.org.

Volunteering to Make a Difference

We are excited to have Stephen Kielbasa, a BSN student at Goldfarb School of Nursing, back as a guest blogger. In this blog he shares his experience, and the experiences of two other Goldfarb students, volunteering at a community event this spring. 

Mother To Mother Luncheon

From left to right, Goldfarb School of Nursing students, Emily Hancock, Stephen Kielbasa, Jeannetta Brooks

I’ll admit it—pink shirts often get overlooked when I get dressed in the morning. When it comes to supporting good causes though, I’m always willing to go the extra mile and so are the members of our Goldfarb Student Nursing Association (SNA). Despite being on term break, several SNA members donned pink shirts and volunteered for the Mother To Mother Luncheon at SqWires restaurant in April. Mother To Mother provides support to soon-to-be mothers and those experiencing postpartum adjustment disorder (PPAD). Thanks to events like the fund-raising luncheon, Mother To Mother is able to offer its services at no cost to clients. Here are some thoughts from fellow SNA members and students who also attended the event.

“I wanted to volunteer for the Mother To Mother Luncheon because the services the organization provides are both important and unique. Because I’m a mom, I understand the stress and anxiety that occur during pregnancy and after giving birth. I think that Mother To Mother provides a vital service that addresses issues that are often ignored.

There’s often a stigma attached to postpartum depression, and I listened with admiration as a Mother To Mother client shared her story, which was both courageous and insightful. I really enjoyed meeting the staff and the different guests, as well as getting to know some of my classmates who were volunteering.” Emily Hancock, BSN – Upper Division

“I was happy to have the opportunity to volunteer for and support Mother To Mother. As a mother, I know that along with the joys of motherhood come periods of emotional contention that may need additional support. The organization recognizes the many degrees of PPAD and is able to provide resources to assist even the most severe cases at no cost to the mother.

It was a great pleasure to spend my day supporting one of their biggest fund raising events and help ensure that Mother To Mother can provide services to mothers throughout the St. Louis Metro Area.” Jeannetta Brooks, BSN – Accelerated

At the end of the event, I think we all agreed that the Mother To Mother Luncheon was a great experience. We had an opportunity to see the innerworkings of a nonprofit organization and participate in supporting a great cause. I want to thank our student volunteers, and I hope that many more will join the SNA in supporting other great causes this year.

Stephen Kielbasa, SNA community chair

For more information about Mother To Mother, visit www.mothertomothersupport.org or call 314-644-7001.

Missouri Nurses Association Nurse Advocacy Day

Nurses not only impact health care by teaching future nurses and by caring for patients, but many are involved in shaping laws to enhance patient care and the nursing profession. A group of students witnessed firsthand how nurses are influencing laws at the 27th Annual Missouri Nurses Association Nurse Advocacy Day in Jefferson City, Missouri. Stephen Kielbasa, a BSN student at Goldfarb School of Nursing, shares his experiences from that day and what he learned while at the state capital.

Image

Stephen Kielbasa, along with fellow student Gina Kitterer (center) and faculty member Dr. Mary Curtis, enjoyed their time at the capitol during the Missouri Nurses Association Nurse Advocacy Day.

One couldn’t help but feel the anticipation while watching and listening to the hustle and bustle of the crowd. Friends and strangers chatted away. Nurses, professional and student wandered through exhibits. Hungry conference-goers balanced bagels and coffee cups in their hands waiting for the event to begin. Why all the excitement? Well, this was just the beginning of what would turn out to be an informative and adventurous day in Jefferson City, Missouri —the 27th Annual Missouri Nurses Association (MONA) Nurse Advocacy Day.

MONA drew registered nurses and students from all parts of Missouri to the Missouri state capital to learn about the legislative process and the importance of organizing our collective lobbying power. The day included a number of speakers and a visit to the capitol building. We learned about current state legislative efforts and how to interact with our representatives. I found learning about the legislative efforts to be especially interesting.

As student nurses we often do not realize that the framework for our profession is being decided right now, before we even graduate. For example, did you know that advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) do not have the same flexibility to practice in Missouri as they do in other states? Doesn’t quite seem fair, does it? Fortunately, there are groups like MONA who are advocating on our behalf about this and other issues.

While visiting the capitol, another student and I turned our trip into a legislative scavenger hunt. We visited the senate and house chambers, took photos and even tracked down our state representative Sue Meredith from district 71. I was surprised how easy it was to talk with Representative Meredith and impressed by her willingness to talk with constituents.

As a nurse, I want what’s best for my profession and feel I have a responsibility to advocate for our patients. I’m convinced that the best way to do so is to organize nurses so that our voices can be heard within the halls of our legislature. That’s why it is important to have an organization like MONA that not only represents our voice but also provides its members an opportunity to participate.

I encourage nursing students to participate in events like this. I found it to be a great opportunity to interact with my peers and learn a little bit more about how I can help make nursing a great profession.

To learn more about Missouri Nurses Association (MONA), visit www.missourinurses.org.

And find out who your state representative is at www.house.mo.gov.

Student Focus: A Nurse First, an Airman Second

Second Lieutenant Jeremy Nelson (right) at his commissioning ceremony with Captain Alan Millais (left).

“I’m a people person,” explains recent Goldfarb School of Nursing grad Jeremy Nelson. “So I planned on going to school to be a teacher. I never thought I would become a nurse and certainly didn’t think I would join the Air Force.” And although many people wouldn’t put the words “nursing” and “Air Force” in the same sentence, Nelson does, because he felt God’s hand leading him to both.

Because both his parents were in the nursing field, Nelson knows about the passion and dedication this career requires. He learned more about the profession as friends became nurses, and his interest in nursing grew as they encouraged him to consider the career for himself. Finally, after time spent working in retail, Nelson decided he wanted to start helping people facing real problems, not retail problems. As a nurse, he knew he could use his people skills to significantly impact lives every day. So at the age of 29, with a wife and baby at home, Nelson enrolled at Goldfarb and took his first nursing class.

In that class, Nelson learned about a number of career options, including military nursing. Nelson says, “I thought to myself…well, that’s not going to happen. I have a wife, a baby, and I’m too old.” Still, the option of joining the military intrigued him. He looked through some brochures and talked to other Goldfarb students – some older than Nelson, one with three kids – who had chosen the military. During the same time frame, Nelson’s father-in-law suddenly passed away and was honored with a military funeral. With increased curiosity, Nelson reached out to his cousin-in-law, Alan Millais, a captain in the U.S. Air Force. “Alan really ignited my desire to join the military,” says Nelson “So many things were leading me that direction; I felt called to join.”

During his last term at Goldfarb, Nelson applied to the U.S. Air Force nursing program. Out of 250 applicants, only 50 were accepted. Nelson recalls how it felt when he received the acceptance phone call. “I said, ‘This is Jeremy Nelson,’ and the recruiter said, ‘You mean Lieutenant Jeremy Nelson.’ I was ecstatic!”

On October 27, at Goldfarb Hall during his commissioning ceremony, Nelson became a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. This winter Nelson will report to commissioned officer training to start his six-year commitment. “I will be a nurse first and an airman second,” says Nelson.

Nelson looks forward to his time in the Air Force. He knows there will be numerous opportunities for him to learn and grow in the field of nursing and in personal character. He intends to seek an advanced nursing degree and ultimately hopes to earn a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. “It would be such an honor to teach others about serving people through nursing, but I never want to entirely leave the clinical setting.”

Homecoming 2012: Celebrating Community & Accomplishments

ImageOn Friday, September 21, students and alumni will gather at the College for the first ever Nursing Networking Social.  This is an opportunity for attendees to interact with nursing professionals in various fields who are there to provide insight into career paths of interest. Enjoy appetizers, cocktails and insightful conversation with fellow nurses.

On Saturday, September 22, alumni, students, family and friends are invited to join a Homecoming celebration onthe campus of Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College.

The day’s program will begin with a memorial service for Eloise Delap (Jewish Hospital School of Nursing, 1958), who passed away in March of this year. Eloise influenced the lives of hundreds of students during the more than 30 years she contributed to the success of the Jewish Hospital School of Nursing.

After the memorial service, Dean Michael R. Bleich, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, will deliver a brief message, then spend time meeting with attendees.  Alumni can attend a one-hour Continuing Education session on Emergency Preparedness. The program will focus on the challenges of mobilizing academic centers during crisis.

Saturday’s complimentary luncheon offers a chance for conversation with former classmates and current students. The day concludes with a program to recognize alumni who have made significant contributions to the nursing community. The 2012 Distinguished Alumni Awards Reception will conclude the Homecoming celebration.

Throughout Homecoming weekend, the Clinical Simulation Institute will be available for tours. Take the opportunity to walk through Goldfarb’s world-class, advanced simulation facility to get a glimpse of the technology currently used in nursing education.

Homecoming Schedule
Nursing Networking Social at Goldfarb Hall
Friday, September 21
3 – 5 p.m.

Homecoming at Goldfarb Hall
Saturday, September 22
8:30 a.m. – Registration Opens
9 – 10 a.m. – Memorial Service
10 – 10:30 a.m. – Dean’s Welcome
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. – Continuing Education: Emergency Preparedness
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Alumni Luncheon
1 – 2 p.m. – 2012 Distinguished Alumni Awards
Also available: Clinical Simulation Institute Tours

Visit http://www.barnesjewishcollege.edu/alumni and click on ‘Upcoming Events’ for a complete Homecoming schedule and to register online.

If you have any questions, email them to gson-alumni@bjc.org or call 314-362-7283.

Goldfarb Alum Going Primetime

Image

Katie Duke, a 2004 graduate of Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College, will make her primetime television debut on ABC’s News Medical Documentary “NY Med” on July 10th, 2012.

Duke is a nurse in the emergency department at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the busiest emergency room in New York City, and she has seen it all.  Now everyone can see the insane day-to-day life of an ER nurse through Duke’s eyes.

Living by the mottos “deal with it”, and “everything worthwhile takes sacrifice”, Duke does not see the chaos or challenges in her job as hindrances, but as opportunities.  The opportunities to change lives and to help fix people, or at least teach people how to fix themselves, are just a few reasons why Duke loves being a nurse.  Another reason is that she knows patients get to go home with their loved ones at the end of the day because she is an “awesome nurse”.

The confidence Duke has in her nursing abilities comes from her time spent at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College.  She feels that Goldfarb gave her realistic clinic experience and taught her the fundamental skills that she uses every day.

“The instructors always expected the best,” says Duke. “The college has a big mission and the professors have big hearts. I learned a lot about nursing and about myself while in school.  I stopped underestimating what I could do in my life and started dreaming.”

Now Duke’s dreams are becoming reality.  Not only is she attending Columbia University for a Masters degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, but she is a part of a documentary that will show viewers the real side of nursing.  Duke is excited that viewers will get to see what it really takes to be a nurse.  The knowledge, bravery, grit and emotions are all there – the good and the bad – but it’s real and Duke can’t wait to share it all with America.