Utah’s Nurse of the Year a ‘jack of all trades’

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“Clear!”

Emergency room nurse Jean Lundquist grabbed the defibrillator to revive a man whose heart had stopped. After the shock and a few minutes of CPR, he woke up. Jean turned to him and said, “Man, your heart stopped. You scared the crap out of me.”

From a young age, Jean had an interest in healthcare. Jean said the medical field always fascinated her, even as a child. She even saved up money when she was young to buy a real stethoscope.

This year, Jean was named Utah’s Nurse of the Year for 2017.

Jean currently works as the manager of the trauma department at Utah Valley Hospital, serves on Utah’s Emergency Medical Services Rules Task Force and is the secretary for the Utah County Emergency Medical Services Council. Jean received the Nurse of the Year Award for her years of service in Utah Valley’s Emergency Department, her continued involvement with Emergency Medical Services and the classes she teaches on trauma.

Intermountain Health Care News Release
Jean Lundquist received the Nurse of the Year Award for the state of Utah. Jean currently works as the manager of the trauma department at Utah Valley Hospital. (Intermountain Healthcare)

“I love being a nurse. I’ve always loved being a nurse,” Jean said. “I have never felt one day in my life that I didn’t like being a nurse.”

Jean is originally from Rigby, Idaho, and attended school at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho). In her last semester at the school, she took an EMT class, something that has become a big part of her career as an emergency nurse. Upon graduating, Jean began working in an ambulance in Rexburg, Idaho.

Jean said working in an ambulance would be her favorite job if it paid well. This experience is what made her realize emergency medicine was her ideal area of medicine.

While at the Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Jean said she became a “jack of all trades” from the variety of roles she filled due to the small size of the hospital.

Eventually, Jean came to Utah and got a job at the Utah Valley Hospital. Initially, there weren’t any openings in the emergency department, so she worked in the psychology department for about a year. During that year, Jean checked for openings in the emergency department every month.

Finally, Jean found a job in the emergency room and stayed there from 1983-1995.

Cheri Ross, the material specialist for the Intensive Medicine Administration at Utah Valley Hospital, shared an office with Jean for over 25 years. Cheri said the emergency room just wouldn’t be the same without Jean.

Jean has been the manager of the trauma department at Utah Valley Hospital for over 10 years. The trauma department has grown substantially since Jean became the manager, according to Cheri.

“She’s taken it and run with it, and look at what we’ve become,” Cheri said. “She’s written the book on trauma (treatment).”

Jean said the best part about being a nurse is being knowledgeable in emergency situations.

“Most people don’t know what to do, but I know what to do because I’ve been trained to do it,” Jean said. “So when someone comes in who’s been in a car wreck, I know what to do.”

Jean is a single mom with two children. Her daughter, Jody Lundquist, said she really looks up to her mom.

“She loves to help people, and I want to be just like my mom,” Jody said. “She’s really hard-working. She is well deserving of (the Utah Nurse of the Year Award) and I think she is just awesome.”

While there are positive experiences associated with being a nurse, Jean also said that negative experiences are unfortunately common.

“When you work in emergency (medicine), you see horrible things every day,” Jean said.

Jean said the people she works with make a big difference in her experience as a nurse.

Dani Jardine
ean Lundquist (left) and Cheri Ross walk the halls of Utah Valley Hospital. Jean and Ross shared an office for over 25 years. (Dani Jardine)

“You have to depend on each other emotionally really, because of all the bad things that happen,” Jean said. “Nobody understands you like somebody who does it with you.”

But seeing people survive and get through those situations makes it all worth it for Jean.

One experience Jean shared was when a young man was rushed to the emergency room after getting hit by a car. Jean said the man’s wife was about to have a baby, and Jean had to tell the wife that things weren’t looking very good for her husband due to a horrible head injury.

Jean said she didn’t know what happened to the man because people get admitted to the hospital and “you kind of lose track of them because you don’t go see them every day.”

About four years later, Jean went to a career day held at the hospital for high school students. The speaker at the career day was the same young man who had the horrible head injury. He had recovered, gone to law school and become a practicing attorney.

“To me, that was worth every second of the hard times,” Jean said. “Those are the times when you feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m doing something important here.'”

Working in the trauma department, Jean enjoys being able to see patients through the entire process of prevention, treatment and recovery.

Jean hopes everyone can find something they enjoy doing as much as she enjoys being a nurse.

“Find what it is that you are passionate about and do it every day, and don’t quit because it’s hard,” Jean said. “Sometimes the hardest things are the most rewarding.“

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