Nagel Wins Nightingale Award at Nurse Pinning

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Leah Nagel just seems to have a way with cranky people.

“Leah can talk even the most bitter man into doing just about anything,” Maranatha Nursing Department Chair Kelly Crum said of Nagel, named winner of the Florence Nightingale Best Bedside Nurse Award during Thursday morning’s Nurse Pinning Ceremony. “She just has a way with people that really helps them open up to her.”

“It’s been that way since I was little,” said Nagel (right), one of 17 nursing students who celebrated having completed the program. “I love people, and I’m a person who believes a smile goes a long way.”

The senior from Sheldon, WI, became the fifth winner of the award, selected by the Nursing Department faculty based on the student’s character, academic achievement, and bedside manner. Previous winners were Nadine Callan (2008), Jessica Biechy (2009), Kristin Woodby (2010), and Keith Kraker (2011).

The road to a nursing degree hasn’t been an easy one for Nagel, who often worked 40 hours or more per week while putting herself through school yet somehow managed to graduate debt-free. She enrolled in online and summer school classes and worked at Camp Chetek, Shepherds Ministries, Costume Cottage, and Golden Living Center, as well as in home health care—including one summer caring for Crum’s in-laws.

“Because she is so open with people, they naturally love her,” Crum said. “When we took our medical missions trip to Chad (in March), the people there really wanted her to stay.”

Nagel’s next step is to pass her state nursing board exam in mid-May, then look for nursing work in oncology, preferably in southeast Wisconsin.

“I would like oncology because it gives you a chance to work really closely with patients and their families,” Nagel said.

Thursday’s ceremony included the ceremonial lighting of the lamps, the reciting of the Florence Nightingale Pledge, and a challenge from Dr. Dean Kurtz, Associate Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown. Kurtz’s daughter Sarah is one of the graduating seniors.

Kurtz’s challenge explored the spiritual meaning behind four of the primary promises in the Nightingale Pledge—purity, faithfulness, loyalty, and devotion.

“No matter how much information is gathered over four years, it comes down to the character that supports that knowledge,” Kurtz said. “Whatever skills you have acquired are valueless without caring.”