Research Medical Center
February 16, 2012

by Linda Friedel | Reprinted courtesy of KC Nursing News

Patients are not shy about showing their appreciation to a nurse who tends to critical care.

“I like to think of myself as pretty positive, perky person,” said Kendra Vogel, RN, BSN and charge nurse in the pulmonary immediate care unit at Research Medical Center.

Vogel graduated in 2009, but has already demonstrated how to go the extra mile with patients, employees and the community, said Myra Merit, RN and clinical manager of the pulmonary unit.

“She has excelled and has shown leadership on the floor,” Merit said. “We’re just happy to have her.”

Vogel was surprised and nervous when she became charge nurse for her unit. Serving on the pulmonary unit calls for critical thinking, watching for changes in patients on ventilators, she said.

“We have to figure that out on our own,” she said.

With the added responsibility of charge nurse, Vogel must respond to all codes. There is always back-up, she said. Vogel said she stayed in the background on her first few codes, but gradually leaned in.

“Now I can really jump into things, knowing more what’s protocol,” Vogel said.

Vogel likes to educate patients and their families and said she treats them like she would want her family members treated in the same situation. The news she breaks to families is sometimes bleak, but she tells them in an assuring and truthful manner, she said.

“I feel like I do a good job talking to family members,” she said. “Trying to calm them down. It’s never going to be easy.”

She remembers the first time she told a family member their loved one passed away. She told them what a wonderful person their loved one was and how she understood their loss. She said it is important to relate to the patient as a person.

“Think about being in their situation,” she said.

In addition to serving at the bedside and throughout her unit, Vogel initiated several community service projects. She launched a food collection for Harvester’s Food Bank of Kansas City and Adopt-a-Family on her unit. Vogel said she is at home with community service. She helped to build a house for a family in Belize and Mexico on service trips with Rockhurst University where she went to school. With a local church she helped to fund scholarships for high school students in El Salvador, then traveled to the country and she educated the families on basic health care.

“I’ve been on several mission trips,” she said. “ I love all that stuff.”

Vogel followed in her sister into nursing and her own dream into graduate school. She is currently working to earn her nurse practitioner degree at the University of Kansas School of Nursing and hopes to someday work with underserved communities. She said TV medical shows do not credit nurses for what they do.

“I just think that all the medical shows give us a bad rap,” she said. “Nurses are 100 percent patient-focused. We’re the ones there all the time. Nurses are the ones that can make a big difference.”