Thirty-three years ago, Kansas native Elizabeth Ward, RN, joined Ascension Via Christi St. Francis as a new nurse on the Pediatrics unit. She continues to serve in the same unit at the same hospital today.
Ward has always had a soft spot for children, but before becoming a nurse, had committed to a different career path.
"I was in my fourth year at KU pursuing an education degree and I told my parents I wanted to become a nurse," says Ward. Her parents told her that she was too far along and needed to finish what she started.
“So I got my degree and then went to Wichita State for her bachelor’s in nursing."
Once Ward began working as a pediatric nurse, she knew she was in the right field. As a mother of four, she appreciates being in a field where she could adjust her work schedule to her family needs over the years.
"I got into nursing and I never looked back," says Ward. "I stayed because Via Christi has always been supportive of me and my goals."
Even though didn’t go into teaching, Ward uses her skills as an educator helping new nurses and nursing students who shadow in her unit. Ward says hardly a day goes by when she's not demonstrating, showing or discussing important information with new nurses.
"I always tell new nurses and students that parents know and understand their child best," says Ward. "If they tell me something, I take it to heart and act on it immediately, and I advocate for that."
What she looks forward to most each day is using fun and creativity to impact and improve the lives of children and their families. She's done cartwheels in the hall and made funny faces to cheer patients and found a way to get a 10-year-old who was refusing to take medication to do so.
"He hated his medicines and I hated broccoli," says Ward. "He took his medicine, so I ate broccoli in return!"
The extra effort Ward puts into caring for her patients does not go forgotten or unnoticed. She’s had multiple cancer patients come back happy and healthy decades after their time in the unit.
"One child I remember caring for came back to the unit 10 years later after going through nursing school and personally thanked me for helping to inspire her to become a nurse."
Over the years, Ward has learned that it’s important to be flexible and open to the ever-changing environment. A self-acknowledged “workaholic,” Ward pours 100 percent of her heart into caring for others at the hospital.
“Working in a hospital is a team effort and it is an honor and privilege to work alongside the best nurses I’ve known,” says Ward. “The experiences I’ve shared with longtime friends and coworkers have shaped me into being a better nurse and person.”
She’s done the same for them in return.
“Her leadership, knowledge and experience on the unit makes her a well-respected role-model and nurse by her patients and peers,” says Jennifer Rogers, nurse manager of the Pediatrics unit.