When Kristi Calbeck learned in early 2020 that she was one of 13 recipients of the Colorado Health Care Star Award, she was flattered, honored and surprised.
“It meant a lot to me,” says Kristi, who has worked in nursing since 2006. The intensive care unit nurse at Littleton Adventist Hospital in Colorado and clinical instructor for Platt College was nominated for the prestigious award by her hospital for her instrumental role in developing a multi-disciplinary rounding sheet, developing a communication board for non-verbal patients, defining roles during emergencies, and improving staff morale by implementing a birthday board to recognize staff during their birthday months.
An exciting surprise
Colorado Health Care Stars is a statewide healthcare professional award recognition program sponsored by American Sentinel and the Colorado Hospital Association. The program acknowledges industry professionals in Colorado who exceed expectations in the delivery of health care.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 banquet to honor this year’s scholars became a virtual award ceremony. As in years past, American Sentinel drew the name of one award winner for its raffle of one full-tuition scholarship for a program of their choosing. Kristi’s name was selected. “I cried when they said my name,” she says. “It was such a generous gift and I was so very excited and flattered. I couldn’t believe how generous the university was being and my only response was thankfulness.”
Highly educated already
Although Kristi already holds ADN, BSN and MSN Nursing Education degrees, furthering her education has crossed her mind. “I got the MSN Nursing Education in 2017, thinking it would open doors for me to teach more, which it did,” says Kristi, who has also taught clinicals for Regis University nursing students before her current position at Platt. “Down the road, a Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership might allow me to make teaching more of a full-time position. I could help bring up the next generation of nurses.”
A big decision: Gifting the scholarship to a colleague
Unfortunately, the timing of the American Sentinel scholarship wasn’t ideal. Kristi has a two-year-old and is pregnant with her second child, due in February 2021. “My life circumstances aren’t making room for going back to school right now, so after giving it some thought and talking to American Sentinel, I decided to give the scholarship to another nurse who is motivated and excited about the idea.” That person was Nick Hansen, who worked in the ICU at Littleton Adventist with Kristi until leaving the position in August. “Nick is a great nurse who is early in his career and this seemed like something he’d really appreciate.”
To Nick, Kristi’s proposal came at a perfect time. “I was a CNA for six years at Littleton and got my BSN in 2017 and I’ve been in the ICU as a nurse ever since,” Nick says. Like Kristi, Nick has a young family and recently got into clinical education. “I started teaching as a part-time clinical instructor for Centura Health and they suggested that I get the MSN. So, this was already on my mind.”
Nick eagerly accepted the scholarship and is making plans to start the MSN in December 2020. He is deciding between the Nursing Education and Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership specializations. In the future, he hopes to have opportunities to work again in critical care, continue teaching, and eventually move into a management position.
“It means the world to me that Kristi passed along this award to me,” says Nick, who relocated to Vermont in September 2020 and accepted a position as a home hospice nurse. “This is really the perfect time in my career to begin a master’s degree, and now I get to do so for free. I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
While Kristi would have loved to take advantage of the American Sentinel scholarship herself, she has no regrets in passing it on to Nick. “I do love the options American Sentinel offers to busy healthcare professionals,” she says. “I know that paying this forward means good things for a friend. That’s the kind of chain reaction I’m happy to start.”
Colorado Health Care Stars is a statewide health care professional award recognition program sponsored by American Sentinel University and Colorado Hospital Association. The program was launched in February 2015 to acknowledge industry professionals in Colorado who exceed expectations in the delivery of health care.
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