Andrea Knight’s connection with Vernon Memorial Hospital has come full circle. Born in the hospital, she has now returned as a member of the nursing staff and feels honored to be a part of the healthcare team serving her community.
In honor of her work mentoring the hospital’s new nurses, and for her holistic care of patients, Knight has been nominated for the Tribune’s Heart of Healthcare recognition. Kaylie Granzow, RN nominated her colleague because Knight helps the hospital’s new nurses succeed as care providers.
“As Andrea works with patients, her compassion and focus on patient-centered care shines through,” said Granzow. “She displays great attention to detail to ensure patients receive the highest quality care possible encompassing holistic healing. In addition, Andrea’s impact stretches well beyond her own practice.”
One of VMH’s more experienced nurses having worked in the nursing field since 2015, Knight is described by her peers as kind-hearted, soft-spoken and caring.
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“Staff often seeks her out for help because of her knowledge and experience,” said VMH Chief Nursing Officer Kristy Wiltrout. “This past year Andrea was designated as a key preceptor for new staff starting at VMH. Andrea eagerly and willingly stepped up to the challenge with three new RN graduates in June. She made them feel welcome, helped mentor and guide them, and gave them tools she created to help them be successful.”
Knight started her nursing career in 2010 by following in her mother’s footsteps as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Her work in long-term care led Knight to go on to earn a nursing degree. As she was waiting to be admitted to the program at Western Technical College, Knight sought a position at VMH.
“While on the waitlist in 2015, I decided to apply for a CNA position at VMH because I knew I wanted to be an acute care nurse and was interested in gaining hospital experience,” said Knight. “I got the Med/Surg CNA job and continued with nursing school until graduating in spring of 2017. I applied for an RN position at VMH and began to transition from CNA to RN.”
In 2019, Knight earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Western Governors University. With her education and experience, Knight provides new hires with orientation and help during the job transition.
“Andrea willingly shares her love of knowledge and has helped our staff with their confidence and competence to provide the very best care at VMH,” said Wiltrout. “Andrea helps us meet our mission by ensuring our staff is well trained to provide the best care in the region.”
Knight says she can relate to the new hires by remembering how terrifying nursing felt for her right out of school. So, she strives to make orientating new nurses and CNAs a positive experience.
“I use things I have learned such as giving immediate feedback, debriefing after a challenging moment, teaching to the orientee’s learning style and exploring different personality types to better provide new nurses with what they need to be confident, successful learners.”
She desires to work with patients, young and old, to help them through their sickest days and guide them to health and healing.
“Helping someone through a difficult medical decision, encouraging a patient to reach their rehabilitation goals, providing education about a new diagnosis is only part of what I do in any given 12-hour shift," she said. "Not every day is easy in healthcare, we know that for sure, but at the end of the day, I go home knowing I made a positive impact on somebody’s life. That is why I chose to be a nurse."
Knight believes working in rural healthcare is a huge benefit because she can take time to connect with her patients individually and create a trusting relationship. Caring for patients, allows Knight to practice holistic healing for the entire person, rather than focusing on the acute illness.
“I find patients can feel isolated, lonely, even anxious, or scared, especially in the times of COVID-19 with visitor restrictions, CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) isolation guidelines and the unknowns that come along with it all,” said Knight. “Taking the time to sit and talk for a few minutes and share stories of where they are from, their family, their goals, is almost if not just as important as the antibiotics I give for their infection. Giving patients a safe, trusting environment to communicate, learn and rest while healing is at the core of my nursing practice. Sometimes it is the little things like a hot blanket, soft music, a sunny window, some coffee and a little conversation that I can provide for my patients to make them feel safe and at home.”
In addition to her nursing career, Knight recently opened a small portrait photography business, Andrea K Photography, using training she received from a graphic/web design program.
Knight lives near Avalanche and is married to her high school sweetheart, Keifer, who supported her through nursing school. The couple has two boxer dogs and a crazy grey cat named Kooper.
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