Three area sisters know their nursing, having a combined total of more than 120 years experience.
Alyce Killmer has been employed by Trinity Health in Minot for more than 40 years. Kayleen Njos is employed by Bethel Lutheran Home in Williston and Valerie Eide is employed by Good Samaritan Society in New Town. All are registered nurses.
As they near retirement, they are reflecting on their nursing careers and their bond as sisters. The oldest of the sisters, Njos, was the first to go into nursing. Her two sisters decided to follow in her footsteps.
Submitted Photo • Three longtime nurses who also are sisters, enjoy the bond they have. From left to right are Alyce Killmer, Valerie Eide and Kayleen Njos.
"We're very close, all three of us being nurses. We have an understanding of all the trials and tribulations, as well as the joys of this profession. Our sister, two years older than me, passed away due to leukemia recently. We stayed and took care of her, and after that experience, we all just knew we had to spend the rest of our lives enjoying each other," Njos said.
"Our bond has been very strong. We are always trading stories about nursing and if we're not doing that, we're asking each other how our week went. We are each other's support system. When we get together, we love to laugh and have fun," Eide said.
Though they have nursing in common, the three have chosen different career paths in a field that offered a variety of opportunities.
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Njos went to Trinity's nursing school right out of high school, graduating in 1966. She began her career in Montana and found herself as the director of nurses at a nursing home there.
"I was asked if I wanted to be the director of nurses for a few weeks because they needed the help. I thought I wasn't going to like it but after that, I loved it. Geriatrics has been my love for most of my career, though I have also worked in hospital, ER, surgery and coronary care," Njos said.
"I've always liked the residents. I guess what I like about geriatrics is you're not only working as a nurse when you work at a nursing home, you're also helping provide the residents with a home and trying to make it as home like as you can," she added.
After working in Montana, Njos returned to North Dakota to work at Bethel Lutheran Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Williston. She has been there for 32 years. She's worked in nursing for 44 years altogether.
"I have really enjoyed all the years. I can honestly say there's hardly been a day I haven't looked forward to going in to work because I know if I try hard enough, I can really make a difference in others' lives. It's been very rewarding," Njos said.
Killmer was the next sister to go into nursing, receiving training at Trinity's nursing school as well. She went on for further schooling to get her bachelor's in nursing at Minot State University, then on to get her masters at University of North Dakota.
Killmer has worked at Trinity Health for more than 40 years in various positions, as a staff registered nurse, a nurse manager and in nursing administration. Her most recent position has been as the director of quality improvement.
"For me, the opportunities just arose and I took them and looked at them as challenges. I've really welcomed the opportunities I've had to work in different areas, and I feel like I learn something new every day. There's a lot of challenges, but a lot of rewards also," Killmer said.
Eide, the third sister to go into nursing, began work at a Good Samaritan Center in Noonan as a director of nursing.
"Up until that point, I hadn't known much about long-term care. Within two weeks, I knew this was where I wanted to spend my career. I loved the relationships with the residents. In long-term care, you can really get to know the residents and their families," Eide said.
Eide has worked in nursing administration since then, in a variety of places. Most of the time she has worked for the Good Samaritan Society, working at six of the society's 15 centers in North Dakota. Currently she is the administrator at the Good Samaritan Society home in New Town and in Arthur.
Eide wanted to encourage the next generation to consider nursing as a career, with the variety of opportunities and challenges it presents.
"One of the wonderful things about nursing is there is such variety, and a variety of shifts. Yes, there is stress in it, but the challenges also energize you when you're taking on a new position or learning how to run new technical equipment. It make you feel good to learn how to do it," Eide said.
The three sisters are thankful for parents who encouraged them to seek higher education, and for the bond that they share in their nursing careers and in life.