Denise Coleman, Nurse practitioner and lifelong learner

Denise Coleman didn’t plan to go into medicine. She had a pretty typical childhood growing up on her family’s farm near Bedford. She had her three sons very early and settled into a factory job where she assumed she would stay. When the factory closed, she had to make a decision. “We had an opportunity to go to school to learn new skills, or to find another job,” she explained. “A really close friend said ‘Denise – we’re going to nursing school!’ and so I went. It was the luckiest thing I ever did!”

After commuting 90 miles a day for two years to attend Southwestern Community College in Creston, she earned her associate degree and became a Registered Nurse. She had done her clinical training at Ringgold County Hospital and when she graduated, she was offered a job immediately. “I’ve done a lot of work in the Emergency Room,” she said. “ER is my baby. I worked there and did bedside nursing with medical-surgical patients for two years.” At that point, she was approached by the hospital’s leadership to help build its electronic medical records system. “I did that for about a year and enjoyed it. I’m a jack of all trades,” said Denise. In the meantime, she was promoted to be the manager of ER and Med-Surg.

Not satisfied with the status quo, Denise went back to school in 2015 to earn her bachelor’s and then her master’s degrees. She has now completed all the work necessary to become a Nurse Practitioner. “I can diagnose, treat, prescribe, and provide medical advice,” she explained. “I could open an independent practice in the state of Iowa.” But she has no plans to open her own clinic. Ringgold County Hospital is her home away from home. “The hospital has been my employer for 11 years. I love the variety of my job. I’m a utility player. Somedays I’m in the ER, I do some hospital rounds, and I care for sick patients in the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic. That allows the clinic staff to keep appointments available.” Caring for patients who are part of a rural population is particularly rewarding for Denise. “I’m dedicated to providing the best care – no matter where you live. Our patients become our family. I love getting them well and keeping them well.” Denise’s hard work and dedication has contributed to her success while providing an extraordinary role model for her three sons, now in their 20s. “They’ve absolutely seen the value of hard work and of not being complacent.” She’s not about to rest either. “I’ll continue my education and add some more certifications!”