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