SHARING A PASSION FOR CAREGIVING

Photo: Katie (black), Angie (purple) and Janna (pink/black)

April 10, 2019

SHARING A PASSION FOR CAREGIVING

Mom, Daughters and Daughter-in-Law All ThedaCare Nursing Professionals

WILD ROSE, Wis – From the time Holly Gunderson was in kindergarten, she told people she was going to be a nurse. Now, 30-plus years after earning her nursing degree, she’s still immersed in that career and continues caring for people.

Little did she know she’d also become the matriarch of a foursome of nurses in her family -- or that all four would work together at the same hospital for a time.

“It was quite a unique situation with all four of us working together as nurses,” said Holly Gunderson. “It was a special experience for our family.”

In the past year Holly’s daughters, Katie and Janna Gunderson, earned nursing degrees, joining their mom and sister-in-law, Angie Gunderson, as nurses at various ThedaCare facilities. While Katie and Janna were in nursing school, they were certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at ThedaCare Medical Center-Wild Rose, where their mom has worked since 1998 and Angie since 2006.

“For me it was gratifying to watch Katie and Janna interact with people; to see how wonderfully they cared for patients and watch them grow in their nursing abilities,” said Holly.


Photo: Angie (blue), Holly (green) and Katie (black/maroon)

Angie noted that the foursome sometimes worked the same shifts, on the same days.

“It was easy to delegate work to them, we separated work from family,” said Holly. “We all knew what we had to do individually.”

Holly explained that because of busy schedules, sometimes the only time they would see each other was when they were working together. She said during the holidays they’d occasionally volunteer to work so they could be together.  

“Sometimes our co-workers would remark, ‘Oh, we have the Gunderson clan today,’” said Katie.

With the Wild Rose hospital being a small location, the impact of four members of the same family working the same shift was significant.

For Katie and Janna, working with their mom helped them see her leadership role.

“She’s a great nurse and special role model for our family,” Janna said.


Photo: Janna being pinned by mother, Holly, at her nursing school pinning ceremony at UW-Oshkosh

Today, Katie is a registered nurse (RN) at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London and Janna is an RN at ThedaCare Medical Center-Neenah. Holly and Angie continue to work at ThedaCare Medical Center-Wild Rose.

“I miss Katie and Janna now that they’re moving on in their careers and working at different hospitals. I’d love to work with them again,” said Holly

In describing why they chose a nursing career, the four women echo a common refrain.

“You get to be a part of someone’s life. No matter if it’s a minor injury or illness or a life-changing diagnosis, you get to be there for them,” said Katie.

For Janna, the draw was the ability to work with a patient when they need help getting better.

“It’s very gratifying to watch a patient improve from one day to the next, knowing you’ve helped in their recovery,” she said. “During my time as a CNA, I realized more and more that as a nurse you have a major role in managing a patient’s care, advocating for them and getting to know their whole story.”


Photo: Katie being pinned by mother, Holly, at her nursing school pinning ceremony at Mid-State Technical College

Angie, Katie and Janna all like working with critical care/emergency department (ED) patients, while Holly specializes in wound care.

Holly continues to work weekends at ThedaCare Medical Center-Wild Rose while she works full-time as a nursing manager for the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Corrections.

“I continue to work at Wild Rose on weekends to get that one-on-one patient experience. I’ve been doing this for 17 years,” she said. “Luckily my husband is retired and takes care of everything at home so I can keep doing what I love.”

All four women say they like working in the ThedaCare health system.

“The focus on patients is primary, and ThedaCare believes in providing the best care possible locally,” said Angie. “I love working in the community where I live. You have the opportunity to help your neighbors, family and friends and people don’t have to travel out of town for the care they need.”

Katie and Janna appreciate the excellent training they’re receiving.

“My preceptors, the veteran nurses training me in Neenah, have made sure I’ve had a wide variety of patients and experiences so that I am developing my judgment skills,” explained Janna. “I didn’t apply anywhere else. I had my interview, was offered the job as a critical care nurse, and took it. ThedaCare offers top-notch programs, and sets goals and requirements for staff.”

While Holly’s career may begin to wind down in coming years, Angie, Katie and Janna all look forward to continuing to grow in the healthcare field. Angie and Katie intend to pursue bachelor of nursing degrees in addition to their RN certificates. Janna said she has a thirst for more knowledge in her chosen line of critical care nursing.

One thing is certain: the Gunderson women will always be passionate about caregiving.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.