By Paula Redmann  |  Photography: Photos by Jacy

When Audrey Herman was in eighth grade, she told her mother, “If I could be a nurse, I would be so happy.”

Fast forward to today, and Audrey, a Registered Nurse at Sanford Same Day Surgery in Bismarck, is very happy. Her filled to the brim love for nursing, her employer, her co-workers, and her patients is visible, genuine, and most certainly contagious.

Having surgery can be a stressful time for the patient and the patient’s family. Whether it’s a simple outpatient procedure or open heart surgery, all Sanford patients are touched by the Sanford Same Day Surgery nursing staff. Nurses are involved in taking vital signs, starting IVs, reviewing procedures and medications, and going over what to expect both before and after surgery.

“I’m one of the luckiest people in the world,” says Audrey. “I love working for Sanford. You can just feel it when you walk through the halls. People here are warm and caring. We’re people helping people.”

Mere mortals have to commit to being helpful and happy, but not Audrey. Helping people seems to be a part of her fabric.

“It makes me happy to walk into a patient’s room. I just treat each one like they are my best friend or my neighbor. I want them to know what’s happening, and really, I want them to be better. I want them to do well with their procedure, but I really want them to be better at home. I try to give them simple tips about placing their pillows to get comfortable, or putting a warm washcloth on a sore hand. Patients are worried, and their families are worried. Surgery can be a scary thing, so if I can make them smile and feel comfortable, then I’m happy. And if I can make them laugh, that’s even better, because laughing is good for your lungs!”

That kind of patient comfort and care does not go unnoticed. Audrey’s name is brought up specifically—and often—in Sanford’s patient surveys. It seems her good heart and good cheer just can’t help but leave a good impression.  

Audrey seems to be notorious and nearly adored by her co-workers, one of whom walked by during Audrey’s interview with Inspired Woman to stop and profess her admiration.

“Audrey is the most beautiful and helpful nurse. Her patients love her. We love her.”

Another co-worker simply walked by and shouted out, “Thanks for the horseradish, Audrey!”

“I’m so lucky to work with just the best people. We’re a very cohesive group. Dr. Lambrecht (executive vice president, Sanford Bismarck) listens to staff and says, ‘If you can think of a way to improve patient care, let’s do it.’”

You’d think that dealing with people who are ill, hurting, and frazzled would, over time, take its toll on one’s spirit and attitude, but Audrey seems to maintain a joyous frame of mind.

“Hey, we all have four things. We’re all broke, we’re all tired, we’re all short on time, and we all have problems. But, we all have four things. We have God, family, health, and friends. How great is that?”

Audrey used to come up with a motto, a mantra, at the start of each new year. But she found one in 1984 and loved it so much that she has declared it to be her forever motto, and here it is: In life, we have to be strong and bold, and have guts and grace.

I think that’s a good one, don’t you?”   

To see more photos of Audrey by Photos by Jacy, click here.

Paula Redmann is the Community Relations Manager for Bismarck Parks and Recreation District. She married her high school sweetheart, Tom. They have two grown sons, Alex and Max.