We are celebrating the hard work, compassion, and dedication of nurses everywhere. Here at Ringgold County Hospital and Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic, our thanks go out to all the nurses in our hospital and clinic who care for our community every day. Each month, we’re profiling two more outstanding nurses for their contributions.

Kelsey Wheeler, LPN

 

Jayla Johnson, RN

Kelsey Wheeler was an athlete growing up in Gravity, IA. “My hometown is so small that you’ll miss it if you blink!” she said. She and her three siblings went to Bedford schools, where she played softball, volleyball and ran track. She headed to Nebraska Wesleyan for college, intending to become an athletic trainer. “I tried softball for a little bit in college. I wanted to follow the sports thing through. I really don’t know what inspired me, since science wasn’t my thing in school.”

Kelsey learned about nursing through personal experience. “My mom has MS, and she was receiving treatment in a hospital. I started talking to the nurses there and realized that appealed to me more than athletic training.” So, she switched schools and career paths and headed to North Central Missouri College to get a nursing degree. She graduated with her LPN in 2014.

Following graduation, she moved back in with her mother to care for her, which led to a job with a home health agency. She cared for her mother as well as other patients. “It was a great introduction into a nursing career,” said Kelsey.

When she learned about an opening at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic, she applied. “I liked the idea of the routine, and the Monday-to-Friday schedule.”

Kelsey loves the day-to-day interaction with the clinic patients. “I feel as if they’re my patients. I’ve been able to learn the whole community. Growing up in Bedford, there was such a strong sports rivalry. It’s been great to see that everyone here in Mount Ayr is so caring. It’s a nurturing and loving community.”

With a five-month-old daughter, she is planning to stay at the Clinic for the foreseeable future. “The Mount Ayr Medical Clinic is my second family!”

 

Jayla Johnson got some practical advice from her mother which set her on a nursing career path. “I was leaning towards becoming a beautician,” she said. “My mom reminded me that were at least 10 beauticians in the county, and that I needed a profession that would guarantee a job. So, I took a health occupations class while I was in high school. At the same time, I started a job as a Certified Nursing Assistant at the nursing home. I realized that I liked taking care of people!”

She didn’t waste any time. Two days after high school graduation, she began her studies at Southwestern Community College and earned her LPN in 1998. She continued to work at the Clearview Nursing Home and oversaw a walking program and did wound care. “I really liked wound care and taking care of the elderly,” said Jayla. “It has always been my favorite. They have all kinds of stories to tell.”

Although she loved her job, she realized that she wasn’t going to move up any further until she got her degree as a registered nurse. So, she “took a leap of faith”, quit her job, cashed out her 401K, and went back to school full time. “I leaned on my significant other and my family for support. I wanted to focus on school.” It took her about 14 months, and she became an RN.

After graduation, she started at the hospice in Mount Ayr. “They taught me a lot. I enjoyed building the bonds with the entire family, not just the patients.” When a friend recommended she apply for an opening at the Ringgold County Hospital Visiting Physicians Clinic, she hesitated, thinking she wouldn’t be good at it. But eventually, she was convinced and is so happy in her job. “I love the variety of all the clinics,” she said. “I still trim nails, and I love that.” She does all the clinic prep work, pulling labs and notes for the doctors. She does the scheduling and assists the physicians during the actual clinics. And, she’s backup for cardiac rehab and stress testing.

The favorite part of her job is seeing all the people and caring for them. “I like knowing they can count on me.” And like her work in hospice, she cares for the entire family helping them navigate through the patient’s healthcare. “I create a game plan and make the necessary referrals and schedule appointments.”

Jayla enjoys the variety of work in the Clinic. “Going back to school and getting my RN has really paid off,” she said. “I only wish I had done it sooner!”