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Sisters follow in each other's footsteps to become legacy nurses

Sisters follow in each other's footsteps to become legacy nurses
The Volk family has five nurses in its ranks. The oldest sister, Susan (Volk) Spencer, started working at what is now Carle Richland Memorial Hospital (CRMH) in 1978. Joan (Volk) Sager followed her sister’s lead and worked at CRMH too. Then, they left in 1983 to obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Susan stayed at Carle Foundation Hospital and was a 30-plus employee there until she retired,” Joan, CRMH RN manager, Respiratory Therapy ICU and Medical-Surgical, said. “She also has a brick in the Loyalty Courtyard. My three younger sisters followed in our footsteps years later.”

Amy (Volk) Seed, Maria (Volk) Rudolphi and Ann (Volk) Rudolphi all worked at CRMH and started on the Medical-Surgical Unit. The tradition has continued with their daughters becoming RNs – Sarah Richardson (Joan’s daughter), Celia Rudolphi (Maria’s daughter) and Briana Frichtl (Ann’s daughter). They also have a niece, Rachel Weber, RN, who currently works at Carle Foundation Hospital. Family is one heck of a way to recruit prospective new employees, or in this case, nurses.

“I started working at CRMH because my sisters also worked in the facility,” Maria Rudolphi, RN, Infection Preventionist, said. “But I stayed because of the small community and good location to raise my family.”
Maria and Ann Rudolphi, RN, Clinical Education specialist, are even married to brothers of the same family, thus the same last names.

“I was going to become an accountant and follow some of my other siblings initially,” Ann said. “Numbers never change, but then I witnessed someone who needed emergency help, my path changed. I immediately changed my classes to go into nursing.

“I loved that Richland hired staff and integrated them into the team as they learned and grew. I had no prior healthcare experience, and they hired several team members at the same time. They were great mentors to us all, including my sisters.”

What makes these sisters even more special is how long they’ve been with CRMH. Maria and Ann have been with Carle for about 31 years, while Joan is at 39 years. Or you can also count the time she put in at CRMH before she left to get her BSN. Then, we’re talking almost 42 years. All five sisters received their associate degree in nursing (ADN) from Olney Central College, and their clinical hours took place at CRMH. Four of the sisters have bricks in the Loyalty Courtyard. These sisters have shown commitment to the hospital and surrounding communities for decades, but what matters more are the people they’ve helped – patients and team members.

“The best part of my job is also a drawback at times,” Ann said. “People have told me I have brought them comfort when they walk into the Emergency Department (ED), and it’s nice to see a familiar face. I’m glad to be able to give back to the community, but in emergency events, this can be trying to see the ones you know.

“Richland is blessed with those that have been at the facility for many years. I can see how much fulfillment they have in their positions. I continue my career here and learn something new each day.”

Joan and Maria agree that the best part about Carle is the coworkers and friendships they’ve maintained.
“The people – coworkers who have supported me through the years and the patients whom I get to make a difference in their lives,” Joan said.

These sisters remained at Carle because they appreciated the flexibility of the work and the encouragement from leadership to challenge themselves.

“Joan told me right after graduation I would get Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification, so I did,” Ann said. “To me, it wasn’t an option, but she said that I would benefit from the learning, and I did. The director of nursing at the time encouraged me to try other departments, and I cross-trained in other units, including ICU and Pediatrics. I was approached by the ED manager and asked to come help on their unit and found the area I love the most.

“It was due to Joan’s lead that I also obtained my BSN. Watching her obtain her certification, I also knew it was something I was interested in as well. We all have our certifications in our areas.”
Of course, the trio cross paths occasionally at work, and most of the new employees they work with don’t realize they’re related.

“I network with Infection Prevention all the time with Maria,” Joan said. “We work to find ways to decrease infection for ventilators. For education, Ann and I work together to get the education and best practices for all nursing staff. Ann and I do teach the ACLS part to them. We’re professional at work. I have always found it funny that new employees who do not know us don’t realize until they are told by someone else that we’re sisters.”

At work, all three are a wealth of knowledge and have plenty of advice for nurses just starting.

“Be open to opportunities as they arise,” Joan said. As for Maria, she said to always continue to learn new things.

And even though it’s a smaller facility, CRMH cares big.

“It’s a great place for support and encouragement with many avenues to further your career, from those starting in healthcare to the experienced nurse,” Ann said. “You cannot make others learn something. You have to want the knowledge yourself. Expect more from yourself as there’s always room for improvement.”

Categories: Culture of Quality, Community

Tags: Carle Foundation Hospital, Carle Richland Memorial Hospital, nurses