Woman finds her calling as an Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph nurse

Annie Simmons didn't initially plan to make nursing her life's work.

Annie Simmons didn't initially plan to make nursing her life's work.

In fact, she was studying graphic design when she went on a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic with her mother. The couple leading the trip, a retired physician and nurse, told her they believed she was called to be a nurse.

While the Goddard, Kansas,19-year-old wasn't convinced, soon after her life took another turn. She got pregnant, dropped out of school and needed to figure out a way to provide for herself and her child as a single mother.

"I decided to take the advice of the doctor's wife and applied at Ascension Via Christi," she says. She was offered a position in Admissions working registration in the ER.

"I knew from my first day in the ER that working there was what I wanted to do," says Simmons.

She served for six years as a registrar while working toward her associates degree in Nursing at Butler Community College. In 2016, with a degree in hand, she began serving as a registered nurse in the St. Joseph ER, one of the busiest in the state.

While patients in an ER can at times be volatile, the now 34-year-old Simmons says Ascension Via Christi has invested in protections designed to help maintain a safe environment for patients and associates.

“The security officers we have are wonderful,” she says. “Plus, there is a Mental Health Protection Worker assigned to the ER.”

Growing up, Simmons' parents had a “manna,” or blessings, jar to which they would all contribute. They would then pull and read one each day to serve as a reminder of how God was providing for their daily needs.

Simmons’ job has provided for her and her now 12-year-old daughter and allowed her to achieve another goal: Owning her own home.

Simmons, who recently moved to a new role on the hospital’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Resonse Team, says she loves her job and her St. Joseph teammates.

"There is just such a family feel and welcoming environment here," she says.

"At my very core, I have been called to care for people,” she says, noting that many of her patients lack financial resources and that she appreciates the opportunity to serve at a nonprofit hospital committed to care for all. "I was called to care for the sick."

Simmons’ advice for new nurses: "Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for help and don't be afraid of the ER. I found it to be a really lovely place where I have met life-long friends."

Find your career fit by visiting https://jobs.ascension.org/ks