The Importance of Caring: My Journey into Nursing – Dona J. Kudron

By Ashley Strehle Hartman, freelance writer
for Columbus Community Hospital  – Columbus, Nebraska
Published on the Columbus Community Hospital website, October 2018

Dona J. Kudron, BSN, RN, knew what she wanted to do, right from the start.

“I was a born caregiver – I knew that I always wanted to take care of people,” she said.

Now, as patient experience manager at Columbus Community Hospital (CCH), Kudron is in a unique position to do just that. Kudron’s job allows her to not only care of patients herself, but also improve the care offered to all CCH patients.

As patient experience manager, Kudron monitors the feedback of CCH patients. She reviews the feedback they provide through either paper surveys or the new Real-Time Feedback system that surveys patients within 24 hours after their visit. All of these results are saved into a system that is available to hospital department directors.

“But what I can do, since I have the full access for everybody, I can go in and break it down for them,” Kudron said. “If we are having a problem in one area, maybe an overall score is a little bit down, I can go in there and see why and look at the comments from the patients.”

From there, Kudron can help the directors decide how to handle the situation. “I
provide measures, education and communication that help the directors improve patient experiences,” she said.

While this part of Kudron’s job is fairly data-focused, the other part of her job allows her to improve patients’ experiences in a more hands-on way.

Kudron is also program coordinator for CCH’s Surge Center – a comprehensive joint-replacement program that started in April 2018. In this role, Kudron helps patients through the entirety of their joint replacement experience – starting with their education before surgery and through their recovery afterwards.

“I stay with them. I still see them on a daily basis. I help them walk. I help them with anything they need. If there’s an issue, I take care of it,” Kudron said.

This dedication to patients is nothing new for Kudron. She had her first job in health care at just 15 years old, working at a local nursing home with her mother.

“My mom loved it and she’s a caregiver at heart, so I thought, if she loves it, I’m going to love it too,” Kudron said. “So, I started at the nursing home and I developed relationships with the patients and I knew I had a passion for care-giving but I just didn’t know which direction I wanted to go.”

Initially, Kudron was drawn to physical therapy. She had even enrolled in college with plans to study it when her life went in a different direction. Her two-year-old nephew got sick and Kudron left school to move in with her brother and sister-in-law to help with her nephew’s care.

This experience would change Kudron’s career goals and her life.

“As I took my nephew to his appointments at UNMC, I saw how the nurses responded to him and became like a big sister to him and I knew that was my calling,” she said. “So I hopped into nursing school.”

In the years since, Kudron has practiced in various health care fields – primarily in long-term care settings. But when she joined CCH seven years ago, it was in acute care.

As she worked in various jobs in health care, Kudron would look to her coworkers and supervisors who stood out as leaders and who truly connected with their peers and patients. She was inspired by them and they influenced her career goals.

“I knew I wanted to be a person who creates change,” Kudron said. “I love challenges and I like to think outside of the box and I like to be creative in that type of leadership. It’s exciting to me.”

The patient experience manager position affords Kudron a unique opportunity to do that as she looks at patient data to improve, not only patient experiences, but CCH as a whole.

“CCH is constantly thinking of ways to make the hospital better for everyone and it’s exciting that I get to be a part of that,” Kudron said. “I’m proud to work here.”

To learn more about Kudron, or the services offered at Columbus Community Hospital, visit http://www.columbushosp.org.