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Sanford Health RN Kayla Teneyck helps patients navigate cancer diagnoses while serving in the National Guard.
She’s living up to the mantra that nurses are the bridge between patients and their doctors by interacting with both parties regularly and helping each one understand the other.
Not only does Teneyck build metaphorical bridges as a nurse navigator in Sanford Bismarck’s oncology department, but she’s also built bridges as a 20+ year veteran of the National Guard.
Teneyck is currently a major in the state medical detachment and working as a nurse in the National Guard.
Daily Nurse proudly honors Kayla Teneyck as our Nurse of the Week.
When Teneyck first enlisted in May of 2000, she chose the bridge-building unit because it was based in Bismarck. That meant she could spend her two weeks each summer with the Guard, building bridges on the Missouri River and training close to home.
“I have grown up on the river and have been on the river my whole life,” says Teneyck. “So if I have to do something where I’m away from that for two weeks, I wanna be close to water. Cause if it’s going to be hot, I wanna be cool.”
Soon after, though, she found herself in the Middle East, building bridges on the Iraq-Syria border.
“We built it on Veterans Day of 2003. We built a bridge out there. So that was pretty awesome that we got to build a bridge in a theater of operation,” Teneyck says.
Teneyck Continues to Serve
After her first tour of duty, Teneyck graduated from nursing school, but her military service didn’t come to an end. She recommitted to the Guard and became a nurse in the 814th Area Support Medical Company.
Teneyck would go back overseas repeatedly, including goodwill missions to Ghana and Congo and another deployment to Afghanistan in 2014.
“My experiences at the hospital have helped me soldier. My experience as a soldier then helped me at the hospital. So they kind of like build on each other,” she says.
Bridging the Gap
Now, this veteran nurse continues to serve both in the National Guard and at Sanford Health.
“You can truly tell that Sanford loves their veterans. Every time I walk out in the front of our facility, it makes my heart smile because they have every one of the service flags up in the front. And I hope that other veterans when they come here also feel that.”
Teneyck may no longer be in the 957 Multi-Role Bridge Company, but those practical skills still serve her well, whether taking care of military or civilian patients.
“Nursing is huge because it literally is the bridge between patients and providers,” she says. “A majority of times people have never stepped foot into a health care facility and then they get cancer and then they get a complete entire world that they’ve never navigated through, and so we just help with that and just make it less scary.We help them navigate those waters until they get to a place where they can take the reins back over.”
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