Nicole Brunelle, R.N.
Employed: Emergency room at CHI St. Alexius Health, North Dakota Department of Health, Bismarck Air Medical LLC
Quote: "I truly feel that all people should do a service job, whether or not medical, to be aware of how people need you to be nice."
Nicole Brunelle works three jobs while studying for a dual master's degree from the University of Mary.
As the state's trauma system coordinator, she oversees 44 hospitals and conducts site visits two to four times each month.
“She is the most caring person, a hard worker, a fantastic nurse. She is always a fun person, an excellent co-worker and ... she goes, goes, goes all the time. One of the nicest persons I ever met. She's always attentive and caring when needed anywhere,” said Jan Franklund, an office administrative assistant at the North Dakota Department of Health.
As a flight nurse for Bismarck Air Medical LLC, a local private corporation for medical transportation, Brunelle signs up for shifts every month, working evenings and weekends.
“Nikki is a go-getter and pure energy. She is a huge asset to the flight program and great at recruiting for other peer flight nurses .... One of the more caring individuals beyond belief, she's a hand holder and possesses astute technical skills," said Dan Schaefer, the medical operations chief at Bismarck Air Medical.
And finally, she works as a nurse in the emergency room at CHI St. Alexius Health.
“She's an amazing nurse, aside from being so sound in her clinical knowledge wrapped up in a dynamic personality. Nicole is unflappable, cool headed in chaos, completely driven woman. She is such a good fit as a nurse," said Dr. Gordy Leingang, of CHI St. Alexius Health.
As the oldest of four children, Brunelle, who graduated from high school in Trenton, remembers caring for a bleeding girl while she was on the playground at daycare and, in second grade, drawing a self-portrait of herself in a nurse's uniform.
“I put myself through college working for East 40 Fine Dining Restaurant," said Brunelle of the time she spent earning a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Mary. "It taught me how to interact and talk to all types of random people. I truly feel that all people should do a service job, whether or not medical, to be aware of how people need you to be nice."
“All she ever talked about was being a baby nurse when we were growing up. She's our go-to person on anything involving medical issues. 'Don't use the internet' Nikki says. Nikki is everybody's advocate,” said Brunelle's sister, Lakayla Brunelle, who wrote the award nomination.
Mary Scott, a clinical supervisor at the emergency room at CHI St. Alexius Health describes Brunelle as a rising star.
"I admire her professionalism. She came to us a novice and over the last eight years here it is rewarding to see our young talent nurtured and able to achieve," Scott said.
Tim Wiedrich, the section chief for emergency preparedness, through the state Health Department, said he is pleased to have Brunelle as part of the team.
“We do large scale disaster responses, which is intense activity. As a nurse, she is one of our go-to people for this type of response. She is leadership oriented so well in our agency and has a tremendous future ahead of her," he said.
Brunelle shares her life philosophy: “Tomorrow is promised to no one, do the things you want to do now.”