Brandon woman is JY6 Foundation’s choice for ‘Nurse of the Year’
April 15. 2013 7:59AM
Nancy Pierson considers herself “seasoned” in her career as a registered nurse at Avera McKennan.
“They use the term ‘seasoned,’ which is another word for ‘old,’ ” she jokes.
But it’s that very “seasoning” that scored the Brandon woman the 2013 JY6 Foundation “Nurse of the Year” award. The JY6 Foundation serves to fund pediatric oncology and leukemia research, as well as, provide support services to those affected by it.
“It’s quite an honor,” she says.
The award was presented March 23 at the Foundation’s second annual Nurses Dinner held at the Holiday Inn Sioux Falls City Centre. The emotional program included words from Jorgen Yde’s parents, Dane and Katrina, and another young man’s story of his battle with leukemia.
“When they got done with that and started reading the nomination letter, my mom started tearing up and that’s when I knew it was about me,” Pierson recalls.
Though Pierson was aware she was one of eight nominees – four nurses from Sanford Health and four from Avera McKennan – for the award, she never imagined that she would be this year’s recipient.
“My first words when I got up there was ‘wow’ – it leaves you speechless,” she said.
The JY6 Foundation “Nurse of the Year” award was established in memory of Jorgen Yde, who was diagnosed with leukemia during his freshman year at Sioux Falls Lincoln. He lost his battle two years ago when he was just 16.
“He would’ve been a senior,” she tells.
Mollie Kuehl, an R.N. and event coordinator for the JY6 Foundation, said Pierson’s nomination letters stood out among the seven other nominees.
“It was very well thought out and she was nominated by three of her managers,” Kuehl said.
“The other thing that stands out is her tenure. She’s been committed to oncology patients for so many years, so for somebody to stay actively involved (in one area) for so long is not common.”
Pierson coins the 27 years she’s worked with oncology patients as “a calling.”
“I found that and just stayed there,” she said, “it’s almost a calling.”
And while Pierson didn’t know Jorgen personally, she’s cared for many adult patients with similar stories.
“There have been many young adults that we’ve lost – so some days really suck,” she said. “But most days are hopeful, and it’s my job to encourage them, to lift them up. Unfortunately, the road doesn’t always end where we want it to.”
Pierson said she’s been encouraged many times in her career to step up to a managerial role, but has declined so she can continue to have patient contact.
“I’m just the worker here,” she said. “I’ve been offered supervisory jobs, and I could do that, but then I couldn’t be with the patients.”
Pierson obtained her nursing degree from South Dakota State University.
“I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to be a nurse growing up, but when I was 17, 18 I thought it was a good combination of science and people skills, and was the right fit for me,” she said.
In addition to the plaque commemorating the honor, $500 is being donated in Pierson’s name to the Be the Match Foundation, which connects leukemia and lymphoma patients with donor matches for life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplants. To learn more about Be the Match, visit www.marrow.org. Learn more about FY6 Foundation on Facebook.