Jody Boes was always drawn toward healthcare. As a child growing up in Door County, she constantly carried around the doctor/nurse kit, and she looks back at her early experiences taking care of her grandmother, and losing relatives at an early age, and feels that being a nurse—becoming a nurse—is a calling that continually led her to ask, "How can I make a difference in the lives of others?"
Jody spent the first 10 years of her career working for Dr. John Herlache. "I think about him as being one of the most influential people in my professional career," she says. "During my time with Dr. Herlache," she recalls, "I became the first Registered Nurse First Assistant in the county, and was credentialed through the medical staff, which was also a first at that time. We started a surgery center and were actually able to achieve an accreditation from the American Association of Ambulatory Healthcare, in addition to our Medicare Certification."
While working with Dr. Herlache, Jody served in the military and was deployed to Germany in the early 1990s during Desert Storm. "I was very much influenced by the military during my operating room and surgical services days." Jody remarks, adding, "It had a lot to do with observing hierarchy—with rank and respect, and with authority and decorum." The influence of the military's culture of leadership, and the influence of her time with Dr. Herlache, would serve Jody well when she took on her own leadership role at Door County Medical Center.
For 13 years, Jody was Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Administration at Door County Medical Center. "One of the things I learned," Jody says, "is that in order to achieve engagement within the nursing staff, we need to have strong leaders. So, during my time as Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Administration," she continues, "I focused diligently on my leadership skills. And, I tried to instill in the other nurses those same skills as they came up through the ranks to become supervisors, managers, and directors—how developing quality relationships with our colleagues, being truly trustworthy, and leading with humility, always makes a difference."
As a result of the workplace culture Jody established with Door County Medical Center's nursing staff, nursing engagement scores and patient outcomes increased. "The way our patient experience scores increased is something I'm proud of," she says, adding, "It resulted through the work of our nurses taking care of the patients both as individuals and as a team."
In 2018, Jody established the Jody Boes Scholarship with the support of Bill and Pam Welter, which provides nurses pursuing an advance degree at either the Masters or Doctorate level with $2,500 a year in funding. "When I was a diploma graduate," Jody says, "we managed nursing care in the hospitals. Now, nurses need to be better educated—they need to be the most educated because they are the front line—they are the eyes, ears and hands for our physicians 24/7. We're the professionals that are by the bedside, making a difference in the lives of those patients at all times."
These days, while no longer directly involved with Door County Medical Center, Jody still contributes to healthcare in Wisconsin. "I have been, and still am, a member of the Eastern Wisconsin Division of the Hospital Sisters Health System Board Quality commitee. I've just been nominated to their Board of Directors, and so I continue to participate with, and provide input to, that healthcare organization."
Throughout a career in nursing that spanned 45 years, Jody Boes has indeed made a difference in the lives of others.