Wonderful Women of NPS: Laura Dietrich
WONDERFUL WOMEN OF NPS
An interview with Laura Dietrich, District Nursing Supervisor
The 2022 Women’s History Month theme, Providing Healing, Promoting Hope, is both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.
This year, the NWHA encourages groups throughout the country to use the theme to recognize and honor women in their own communities, organizations, or agencies. We are excited to shine the spotlight on women in the Norwich Public School District who emulate that message.
A DIVERSE BACKGROUND IN NURSING
If you are lucky enough to have a nurse in your life- a mother, sister, husband or brother- you already know they are some of the most caring and selfless people you’ll ever meet. A great nurse cares about the safety and well being of others, is compassionate and patient, and does their best to educate those in their care to help them recover and lead a healthy life.
Laura Dietrich has been practicing nursing for most of her adult life. She attended Griswold High School where she completed a CNA program, and worked in nursing homes shortly after graduating. She then moved into a patient tech role, and afterwards completed her first Bachelors Degree in Healthcare Administration in Las Vegas. While there she worked in a Level 1 Burn Trauma unit. She later completed her nursing degree in Pennsylvania. She has since moved back home to the Norwich area.
Before joining NPS, Laura was a nurse in a local hospital at the start of the pandemic. While there, she was placed on a variety of different units- ER, OR, PACU, Cardiac Telemetry- whenever they needed help the most. While there, she saw many patients come into the hospital with conditions that could have been helped by early intervention. “By the time you get to us in the hospital, we are not your first line. We are your last line. You've come to us when you can no longer breathe, or because you're in such severe pain that a simple doctor's appointment won't do.” Laura believes this type of hospital visit is very much preventable if patients are connected to the proper care and education.
“That's why I wanted to make that move into school nursing. I really feel like this is public health and we as school nurses are your frontline. We educate students and their families on how to maintain their chronic illness at home, so that they don’t need to go to the emergency room. We get to see these students from three years old up until eighth grade. Whether they have diabetes, need tube feeds or have metabolic disorders, we can really educate parents and students and help them find the necessary medical help before relying on the emergency room.”
A KEY COMMUNITY HEALTH RESOURCE
The most rewarding part of Laura’s job is being able to help families better access health and wellness information. She wants the community to know, “You can call the school nurses at any time with any kind of question! It doesn't have to be about your student that's in school, you can say, ‘I'm unsure how to get a doctor for this issue, or I'm unsure what my next step should be for this diagnosis.’ There is so much information out there and it can feel overwhelming. We can help you with that. We're here for the public. We're here to help, so don’t hesitate to give us a call.”
As of today there are 11 nurses on Laura’s team, but she is looking to deepen her bench with additional nurses. She believes that a wide variety of backgrounds and specialities make up a diverse team that ultimately benefits the community. “A lot of the nurses in our schools have been nurses for many, many years. Nursing is one of those professions where the more diverse your experiences are, the more you benefit your community and truly become an invaluable source of information.”
“Being able to talk to the parents about their students' health and help them make connections is crucial. Now that we work with School Based Health Alliance many students are getting on track, and we are able to see students gain everything they need to be successful in school, at home and health and wellness wise. They are getting the resources they need.”
LEADERSHIP & SELF CARE
Laura prioritizes her personal well-being and wants her nurses to do the same. If there is an issue at home, and it might affect your work, she wants to help find a solution. “I’m an open door, so if you have something going on whether it's with your family, your own mental or physical health, whatever it may be as long as you're open with me, I'm flexible with you. We try to make everything work because as long as you're healthy, then you can take care of everybody else– but you can't pour from an empty cup! I'm a firm believer in taking care of yourself first, and then you'll do a great job of taking care of everybody else.”
Laura trusts her team of nurses to make sound decisions, but when there is a problem that needs solving, she often encourages her team to bring their unique knowledge and critical thinking to the table.
“I'm happy to listen to any issue that you have going on, but I want to hear a possible solution to that problem. I could give you 100 solutions and you could still tell me every single one of those is not going to work for you, but you might have one that will work really great. And I want to hear it! So if you have a problem, you should also be thinking ‘How could I fix this?’ and together we can figure out a solution. Everybody sees things differently and that is a wonderful thing. I want us to empower one another to find solutions and carry them out.”
WOMEN INSPIRING WOMEN
Behind every woman is another that has inspired her to reach her full potential. When asked “Who is a woman that inspires you?” Laura’s answer was, without hesitation, her grandmother.
“She’s 92 and she is just– she's awesome! I still call my grandma every single day. She still lives home alone. She's very independent. She owned her own business until she was 85 and worked every single day. She still gets dressed everyday in her heels and her nylons, but she's the type of person that takes nothing too seriously. She always has the best advice. She is just the kindest person and I hope to make others feel the way she makes me feel.”