As a student in Calvin’s nursing program, Jessica Van Marion Visser ’04 wanted to learn how to take care of patients well. She remembers wondering, “Why are our professors spending so much time focusing on what it means to be a nursing leader?”
After graduation, Visser married her high school sweetheart and began her career at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, New York. She spent two years on an orthopedic medical-surgical floor, then became a charge nurse, the hospital’s first level of nursing management. “I enjoyed patient care, but I realized that I was really interested in how the hospital ran,” she said.
Five years later she accepted a night-supervisor position. “At night you have to work fairly independently, so you have to understand how the hospital operates to make a good decision at 3 a.m.,” Visser said. “I got to go all over the building and learn about areas that were new to me.”
In this position—and in her next as nursing director on the hospital’s telemetry medical-surgical floor— she was invited to participate in conferences and management training with other leaders.
Then the vice president for patient care services retired. Visser was encouraged to apply and was offered the job. It gives her the opportunity to take her biggest view yet of the hospital’s operations as she leads in “balancing efficient care with compassionate care.”
The job has also added to Visser’s appreciation for the approach of her Calvin professors.
“Calvin set me up to think critically, to have confidence and take steps early on to be a leader. It also put a central focus on compassion. As we were talking about different patient populations, Professor Flikkema would say to us, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ I hear that in my head still.”