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To the Next Nurses: A letter from Carla Yost, Ascension Via Christi chief nursing officer

I began my nursing career 40 years ago, working as a certified nurse's aide at a nursing home in Sabetha, Kansas, the small rural town where I grew up. I later began serving in the same capacity at the community hospital.


At the time, I didn't know where I was heading professionally, only that I wanted to care for others in a way that was special, different.


Today, I serve as the chief nursing and quality officer for Ascension Via Christi, thanks in no small part to the informal group of mentors who served as my trail angels along a career path that eventually would include earning a master's degree in Healthcare, serving for more than 20 years in nursing and quality leadership positions at hospitals throughout Kansas and, together with my husband, raising a family.


Truly, I was, and continue to be, blessed to have had the opportunity to grow in a profession that has provided me with so much joy over the years and to have had so much help along the way. 


At Ascension Via Christi, we work to ensure that we offer the right care to every patient, every time. So it simply makes sense that we put into place a system to help nurses continue to find the joy in their jobs that drew them to the profession.


So I am excited to share that Ascension recently created an innovative new position to help nursing associates throughout our system reach their professional goals: Nursing career coach. Their role is to provide each Ascension Via Christi nurse with they ongoing, tailored support needed to have a fulfilling, life-long career. 


Shaunda Rakestraw, MSN, RN, has been chosen to fulfill this role in our Kansas ministry market, helping nurses explore their aspirations, both personal and professional and establish a career path that allows them to grow in harmony with their aspirations and interests, and continue to develop new skills, expertise and confidence.


Like me, Shaunda began her healthcare career as a CNA working in a nursing home, then continued her education and training, allowing her to go on to earn her LPN, RN and MSN. She has spent all but three of her nearly 26 years in nursing at Ascension Via Christi, most recently as the quality coordinator for our cardiac service line. 


Shaunda used and built upon her skills, advanced her career within one organization and helped others do the same. More importantly, she's done so with a joyful spirit, taking pleasure in helping others succeed. 


So I can think of no better person to help nurses chart their path and as they navigate the many opportunities they have as an Ascension nurse. -- nor anything more exciting than getting to lend a hand to our next generation of nurses. 

About Ascension Via Christi