Dakota Home Care is proud to announce that one of our skilled nurses, Ardys Olson, RN, has reached a milestone of 50 years dedicated to the profession of nursing! She recently was recognized in a North Dakota nursing publication, and we are thrilled to recognize her as one of our own!
Becoming a Nurse
As a high school graduate, Ardys first thought she would go into accounting. Then a bout of appendicitis and a stay in the hospital to have her appendix removed helped her to change course and decide that nursing was her calling. She had always been interested in nursing, but actually being in a hospital setting peaked her interest even more. That and knowing that she wanted to help people turned her life around.
Ardys attended what was then Bismarck Hospital School of Nursing for a 12-months-a-year, 3-year program. (Nursing is now a 4-year program with summers off.) Too far from home to commute, she lived in the dorms and “had a blast.” She started dating her husband, Gerald, during her last year, graduated in May and got married in September. They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a trip to Tahiti. Ardys and Gerald have 3 children and 6 grandchildren.
Raising a Family
Not long into her career, Ardys became a military wife. Gerald was drafted into the Vietnam War. When he left for basic training, she stayed in North Dakota and worked. After that, she went with him whenever she could. “Wherever we were, there was always a job,” Ardys said. They were married for three years before they started a family. When the children came along, nursing gave her the flexibility to take a 6-month maternity leave each time and then work part-time.
“It’s a beautiful thing for mothers to have a nursing career. I was able to work evening hours while my husband worked days. We required minimal child care. As a mother, it also helped to understand injuries and sickness and how our bodies function. I can’t imagine going through life not thinking how a nurse thinks or understanding what a nurse does!”
Thriving on Chaos
The majority of her career, Ardys worked in Emergency Care. She started her emergency career in a small hospital in a small South Dakota town, but for 30 years she managed the Emergency Department in MedcenterOne, a 200-bed hospital in Bismarck. “I thrive on chaos and the unknown”, Ardys said. “My job was always interesting and never routine. I had a very good staff. We were like a family.” The patient load varied from 40 – 80 patients a day, keeping Ardys and her staff of nurses very busy.
Specializing in Everything
Ardys explained that emergency departments specialize in “everything,” and there is a lot of on-the-job learning. “It’s only been about the last 15 years that nurses are required to have continuing education as part of licensing renewal. “The practice of nursing is overwhelmingly different now. When I started, nursing was mostly about comfort care. Nursing practice is now assessment, intervention, and planning. Nurses coordinate with other disciplines such as social services, nutritional services, and the therapies to provide patients the best opportunity for a positive outcome and a return to their home environment.”
Challenging and Rewarding
When asked what was the most challenging part of her fulltime job, without hesitating Ardys replied, “The weather! The weather in ND can be difficult! Even in a big snowstorm or below zero temperatures, somehow the patients managed to show up and we had to be staffed! Our department had to be available for emergency care.”
One memory that stands out in her career is when 8 patients who had been in a car accident in the middle of the night came to that small hospital where she first worked. “That put us in disaster mode!” She also remembers life-threatening events where things went well, patients with end-of life issues that could be helped to feel a little better so they could attend a special event, and an ill groom-to-be who was made well enough to attend his wedding.
Retiring—for a Year
Ardys retired from her full-time job in 2012 and didn’t work for a year. “I didn’t realize how stressful my job was until after I’d retired. It took me a year to recover!” After a year, Ardys started back to work part-time. “It’s healthy for me to feel like I can help other people and that I still have a purpose in life. I would like to continue to help others as long as I’m able to do the job and enjoy it. I like the in-home environment and the relationships.”
Going Beyond 50 Years
Currently, Ardys works partime doing pediatric nursing for Dakota Home care. She goes into the home to care for a child with identified medical needs. “It makes me feel good to help the parents and give them the freedom to go out from time to time. Parenthood is a 24/7 commitment. I feel like I’m helping the family as well as the child.”
When she’s not working, Ardys enjoys cooking, baking, reading and taking care of a 3-year-old granddaughter. She and her husband go to a warmer climate for a few weeks in the winter. We’re very happy that she enjoys spending a little time being part of the Dakota Home Care family and that she will continue her career beyond 50 years by working for us!