Finding satisfaction in the perfect job
Post Independent Staff
NEW CASTLE, Colo. ” The pillow doesn’t stand a chance against Anne Andersen’s fluffing expertise.
Nor do the sheets or blankets on the bed in the Valley View Hospital day surgery area.
Preparing the bed to perfection for the next patient is just one of the countless duties the 47-year-old Andersen tackles during her long day.
“I work 8 to 10 hour shifts,” Andersen says, then smiles. “They usually turn into 10 to 12 hour shifts.”
Andersen’s low, soothing voice is a perfect match for her compassionate career choice of a registered nurse. Her pillow fluffing and bed preparation are part of the job but it’s the patients that make every day a special day on the job.
“I can’t imagine a more gratifying profession,” she says. “I love helping.
The job keeps Andersen on the move. Bouncing between patients, empty beds and work stations, she puts on the miles around the rooms and squeak-clean hallways of the hospital.
Nursing isn’t a race but Andersen racks up about a 10K every shift.
“I put on about 6 miles a day,” she says, explaining that all nurses wear pedometers to keep track of their walking mileage.
“That’s the hardest part of the job,” she says of of the demanding time on her feet.
Andersen has now been at Valley View for a dozen years. But the road to get to into the nursing profession was like her job ” filled with miles, hard work, long days and satisfaction.
As a mother of three, she worked on the New Castle Ambulance volunteer crew in the early 1990s.
One night, one single night, Andersen remembers as the most profound of her time on the crew. It was a night that she says played a part in her decision to head to college and pursue a nursing career.
The ambulance crew was called out to a tragic and horrific accident near Silt, where several members of a family were killed. Andersen helped comfort a young boy who survived the crash.
She thinks about that night and how it impacted her. “Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m so into kids.”
As a member of the pediatric team at Valley View, Andersen specializes in the field.
“I love helping people and families,” she says.
Andersen jumped into Colorado Mountain College classes, then after two years it was down the interstate to Mesa State College in Grand Junction.
It took five years but Andersen earned a bachelor’s degree. She gives a lot of credit to her high-school sweetheart and husband Barry for his help and support.
Their three kids are now grown ” Jake, 25, Jessie 23 and Heather, 20 ” but when Andersen headed off to college, they still hadn’t hit high school.
Andersen went to Grand Junction on Sunday nights, attended classes, then came home on Wednesday afternoon. She also worked a part-time job during that time.
“It was challenging. I have a very supportive husband,” she says.
It was a long five years, but at the age of 35, Anne Andersen had a college degree and was ready to embark on a new career.
It was not the precise career path she had planned.
She arrived in New Castle at 18 from Hastings, Neb.
“I always said that I would live in Colorado. When I was old enough to make that decision, that’s what I did,” she says with a smile.
Colorado may have been on the radar but nursing wasn’t even close to being on the map.
“When I was young I was going to be an oceanographer or something that wasn’t very practical,” she says again with a modest smile. “I never thought about going into nursing.”
The smile comes when she talks about her job. It’s partly from the satisfaction and relief of finding the “perfect job.”
Andersen hasn’t tuned her back on volunteer work since leaving the ambulance crew. She volunteers at the Extended Table soup kitchen at the Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs.
“Life is tough,” she says. “Sometimes people get dealt a tough hand and need a little help.”
Once again it was a single day that left a powerful impression on Andersen.
“I think I got hooked helping (at the soup kitchen) the day I saw a whole family there with kids and I have helped ever since,” she says.
She’s now recruited Barry to join her as a volunteer at the soup kitchen.
Andersen’s attitude could be poster material for being a nurse. She also never takes what she has and what she’s accomplished for granted.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to be an American and I always want to put something back into the system that has given me such a great life,” she says.
Andersen has come a long ways since she arrived in Colorado 29 years ago.
She now has the perfect job. A job she never knew she wanted until later in life.
For now, it’s back to work, back to helping. And she has miles to go before she sleeps.
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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