“Nursing Instinct” and Servant Leadership Guide Two-Time DAISY Winner

DAISY Winners, Job Seeker, Travel Nursing

By Dillon Phillips

Headshot of white woman with short blonde hair

DAISY Awards are nothing new to Lynn Wolters.

She’s a two-time winner, but her first award resulted from a situation she might like to forget.

While on her way to work at a primary care office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she witnessed a road rage altercation between two men. As she waited at a stop sign, she glanced into her rearview mirror and saw them shouting in each other’s faces.

Then, one pulled out a gun and shot the other.

Without thinking—and with the shooter still armed in the middle of the street—Wolters left her vehicle and rushed to aid the victim. She began administering CPR to the victim as the shooter fled the scene.

For 10 minutes, she tried to save him.

“Nobody helped me until the ambulance arrived,” she said. “So, I’m sitting there doing CPR on a guy by myself. It felt like hours.

“When your adrenaline starts pumping that way, you don’t think about your safety. You don’t think about yourself. You’re thinking, ‘This guy’s going to die if I don’t do something.’”

Unfortunately, the victim didn’t survive, but Wolters’ “nursing instinct” was an inspiration to others and earned her a DAISY. She remained at the facility for another year before transitioning to long-term care, where she says she’s found her niche.

As much as she enjoys working in long-term care settings, she acknowledges it’s not a field without its challenges.

“I think it’s almost more heavily regulated than nuclear plants,” she said.

Helping a long-term care facility comply with those rigorous regulations is a major reason why Wolters won her second DAISY.

Wolters arrived at Ness County Hospital in Ness City, Kansas, as the latest in a series of temporary directors of nursing. In addition to needing to earn the trust of the staff, she had to prepare them to comply with the latest round of regulations that went into effect in just three months. But to begin the process, she needed to show she was fully invested in them.

”It wasn’t ‘Oh, I have to do this other thing, you’re going to have to figure it out on your own,’” she said. “I was out there helping them. That’s when I think they started realizing, ‘OK, she’s not just here to sit in her office.’”

By demonstrating servant leadership and leading by example, she soon won over her staff. No task was too small or too tall for her to help tackle—from setting up spreadsheets to picking up shifts on the floor. She also introduced them to the DAISY program to give them an opportunity to recognize one another for their hard work.

“There was an email going around about the DAISY award, so the nurses asked about it,” she said. “I told them, ‘If you see people out there doing good work, providing great care, going above and beyond—you should nominate them.’”

Much to Wolters’ surprise, a few of her staff members nominated her. She said she was shocked, especially as a new traveler in a leadership position, because the awards typically go to longer-tenured frontline workers.

“I thanked them, but I was hoping they would nominate one another,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting them to choose me.”

A few months passed, and Wolters forgot about the DAISY. She figured they’d selected someone else, so it slipped from her mind. Then, one day she was called into a meeting with Aureus and the hospital’s chief executive officer.

“I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.

Far from it. She walked into a party celebrating her second DAISY, complete with flowers, coffee, donuts, the staff members who nominated her, and a special video conference guest: her husband.

“When I saw his name on the screen, I’m like ‘Oh my goodness,’” she said. “’I can’t believe that man kept this secret from me.’ Because he can’t keep a secret.”

Wolters was honored to receive the award. She said she felt validated in both her management style and her decision to remain in nursing.

“Even with all the struggles that the healthcare field is having and the shortages, I’m still making a difference,” she said. “I’m still doing hard work. That makes me feel good.”

Despite the wishes of Wolters’ staff—their only complaint was that she couldn’t stay at the facility permanently—she’s now working in North Dakota. But she’ll always remember her time at Ness County, the lessons she learned, and the ones she taught.

“Nursing is challenging,” she said, “but there’s so many rewards that go along with it.

“I like making a difference, making someone feel they are worthwhile. I take pride in helping people feel good about themselves, and I do that with both staff and with patients.”

She also wanted to recognize and thank the Ness County Hospital staff who nominated her: Krina R., Kamille W., Shelly M., Shelby H., and Kelle S. She said it was a pleasure to have worked with such a caring, compassionate, and fun group of people

As part of our Daisy Foundation partnership, we recognize our travel nurses who demonstrate extraordinary compassion, great clinical skill and leadership, and strong patient care. We’re honored to share the stories of the amazing recipients of this prestigious award.

Dillon Phillips is a content specialist for Medical Solutions.