Kathleen VanPoppelen, BSN, BA, RN, is Crittenton Hospital Medical Center’s Nurse Manager Pre-Op, Post-Op, Endoscopy, OPC and PAT. That’s a lot of titles for one person whose original interest was a career in elementary education, not the medical field.
Discovering a Love for Medicine
Kathleen VanPoppelen says she never intended to go into medicine. “I was at school to become an elementary school teacher and actually got a job as a nursing assistant over the summers.” She continues, “As I continued my school training, I realized that I just wasn’t as passionate about elementary school as I wanted to be. I thought about what I enjoyed the most, and it was my time working over the summers. So I decided it was time to try something different, and I went to nursing school.” Since nursing school, she hasn’t looked back.
Caring for the Whole Patient
VanPoppelen accredits her training during and right after nursing school for her compassion towards the patient and devotion to treating the whole patient. “The population in my hospital was needy and didn’t have all the resources that many people take for granted,” she says. “It was very eye opening, and it was from there that I learned that you have to care for the person as a whole.” For VanPoppelen, that means treating each patient with compassion and looking at all their medical symptoms and concerns.
After nursing school, VanPoppelen was drawn to outpatient care. “I started in outpatient care back in 1986, but there are so many more components to it today than there were back then,” she explains. VanPoppelen felt a calling to outpatient care because of its ability to provide care without requiring admittance to the hospital. It offered a different approach to patient care. “The bottom line,” VanPoppelen says, “is that people want to be home. Hospitals are a great place when you are really sick, but if you’re doing things to maintain your condition or you’re already healthy, then you want to be able to go back to your home.” And outpatient care allows just that.
Staying Passionate in a Changing Field
When asked how she stays passionate with her work today, VanPoppelen says that the technology keeps the field fresh and exciting. “The technology is amazing,” she admits. “It would take 2 hours to do a colonoscopy in 1986. Today it takes about 20 minutes.”
But technology isn’t the only reason to stay passionate about outpatient care, especially at Crittenton. VanPoppelen explains that, “what really sets our outpatient clinic apart from others is the compassionate staff. Our staff truly is the difference.” She talks about the unique relationship between the Crittenton Outpatient Clinic staff and the patients, many of whom need to come to the clinic multiple times. “The staff knows you and cares about you,” VanPoppelen said simply. It is the compassion and dedication to care for each patient like a friend or neighbor that makes the Crittenton Outpatient Clinic truly unique.
Advice to Her Community Members
VanPoppelen offers her advice to her community members saying, if you could do one thing for your health it should be to watch what you eat. “Try to avoid processed foods and eat as naturally as you can. It really does affect your health,” VanPoppelen says.
Eating better and walking or exercising every day is a great way to try and keep our bodies healthy. But if you do need outpatient care, you have caring and compassionate nurse managers like Kathleen VanPoppelen ready for you at Crittenton Hospital.