From CNA to nursing director, Kansas RN earns national honor

Needing a career change after a sales job fell through, Amy Davis felt encouraged by family to become a caregiver.

“I thought, what else am I going to do?” says Amy, who admits she never thought of serving in health care and wondered if she was too old to switch things up.

At 38, Amy signed up for a certified nursing assistant class at Good Samaritan Society – Wamego in Kansas and she hasn’t looked back.

“Loved it from the beginning and just truly enjoyed being a CNA,” says Amy, now 51. “Then I thought, I like what these nurses are doing. I could do some of this.”

Nursing director role a 'dream job'

Nursing role models would include Amy in the care they were providing to residents. Before she knew it, she was a licensed practical nurse with dreams of leading all nurses at the long-term care center.

“I always wanted to be the director – I’m not going to lie,” Amy says.

Turns out her administrator, Angie Barber, thought she’d be perfect for the director of nursing gig.

“You’ll find Amy in the kitchen, you’ll find her in laundry, you’ll find her ripping carpet,” Angie says about Amy’s work ethic. “She will do anything she can to make it better for the residents and better for the employees.”

Angie adds developing nurses is a priority for Good Samaritan Society leaders.

“I said, ‘Amy, I would make you our DNS if you could please go back to school and get your RN degree,’” Angie says. “She’s like, ‘OK, I’ve been wanting to do that. It’s my dream job.’”

A year into the new role, Amy is bringing stability to the nursing ranks and paying forward the support she graciously received.

“She is a true role model. We have four people in school right now to get their RN degree,” Angie says. “I think it’s a lot because of what she has brought to the table to show what you can accomplish.”

Amy adds that the Society does “offer med aide classes. We pay for LPN class; we pay for RN. We do tuition reimbursement. There are so many avenues (to grow) if somebody wants it or needs it.”

'Above and beyond the call of duty'

While personal growth is fulfilling, it’s not why Amy is sticking around the nursing home.

“You can see it in her actions every single day. She truly loves all the patients here and makes sure they all get the care they need and deserve,” says Jenny Crane whose mother, Gail King, is a resident.

“Everyone is important.”

Gail moved in more than a year ago and is in end-stage dementia. She can’t feed herself, and Jenny fears she was neglected at previous facilities before arriving at the Society.

“It just means so much to me that Amy and the staff here do treat her well and don’t neglect her,” Jenny says while getting emotional.

Next door, resident Rita Ubel is returning from a walk around the center. It’s a remarkable achievement after struggling to stand two years ago. Rita credits Amy with helping her get back up.

“I had Parkinson’s and fibromyalgia and several things wrong,” Rita says. “I was in a wheelchair to start with, and she spent some extra time working with me.

“She’s caring, she’s loving, she’s kind. She goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Teammate Melissa Hieger shares an office with Amy and says the nursing director has a passion for her neighbors.

“I do think that Amy is living out her calling as the director of nursing services,” says Melissa, a Society LPN clinical care leader. “She grew up in Wamego. She married and raised a family in Wamego and is here. Being here for 13 years and caring for the residents and staff, these are her people.”

National Ever Forward DNS Champion

Looking out for residents and staff is bringing national attention to Amy and Wamego. The Society is honoring Amy as the National Ever Forward DNS Champion.

“I was completely surprised with this award,” Amy says. “I feel odd being in the spotlight. I love to give it."

Receiving kind words from her peers and leaders means the world.

“It makes my heart so happy. I mean I’m living my dream. It’s the best job ever,” Amy says with tears.

Resident Lynda Morris adds, “They could not have picked a better person for that award.”

“I don’t think that probably you have anybody else that you have interviewed that’s as good as she is.”

Society ancillary services supervisor Jay Fath says Amy is “a great leader and everybody enjoys working with her. The residents love her.”

Hoping the accolades don’t stop here, Amy and the team have set high goals for the future.

“We have fabulous staff here. People that care and we work hard,” Amy says.

Staff dedicated to sharing God’s love through the work of health, healing and comfort.

“The mission of the Society is important. It’s important to me. It should be important to the staff,” Amy says about the positive environment she tries to foster.

“What I’m looking for is someone who wants to come in, who wants to pour their heart out and take care of residents and do it with a smile.”

Known for her smile and big laugh, Amy plans to keep pouring herself into the center and its people.

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