Kara Stapert, RN, CNP, PTA has done a lot of interesting things in her life — she worked as a physical therapist, earned four degrees, traveled to England on a nursing exchange, served on a mission trip to Nepal during the communist regime and has worked as a Nurse Practitioner with Monument Health for 10 years. “Going into nursing was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said.
In October 2020, the Nurse Practitioner Association of South Dakota named Kara the Nurse Practitioner of the Year — and 2020 was quite the year to be recognized. The American Nurses’ Association (ANA) dedicated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse to support and recognize nurses for their continuous commitment to meeting the needs of patients and their communities, and for their contributions to the art and science of nursing.
Throughout the pandemic, nurses were a steady presence, a caring face and adaptable innovators responding in a crisis. Though we can’t have large awards ceremonies or parties, it’s no less important to celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of our nurses. “I feel especially honored to have been selected in 2020,” Kara said. “It’s definitely not a normal year!
In addition to her nursing duties, Kara is the chair of the Advanced Practice Provider Council, one of many nursing shared-decision making councils for Monument Health. Nurses across the system collaborate monthly in nursing councils to improve outcomes, efficiencies in charting, patient experience, employee engagement and professional development. The councils analyze quality metrics, work to remove barriers to improved outcomes, and implement system-wide evidence-based practices.
“The importance of nurses in ensuring high quality, patient-centered care has never been more apparent,” said Shanon Waldner, Senior Director Professional Practice Development. “People like Kara are leading the way when it comes to professional development and making decisions that will benefit patients, caregivers and the community.”
Kara was surprised by the award. “For me, it was completely out of the blue!” said Kara. “I had no idea. I had done a lot of work for the organization in the past, but I’m not even an active member anymore.”
During her time on the board of the Nurse Practitioner Association of South Dakota, she was involved with the process of getting full practice authority in the state, which allows nurse practitioners to provide service without physician supervision. This legislation passed in 2017, giving patients an additional avenue for treatment and reducing regulatory costs for the state.
“I think you’ve got to give it your all.” Kara said about her career. “When I decided to become a nurse, I made a commitment to being the best possible nurse I could be. I think that applies no matter what job you do. Don’t just come in and punch the clock. Devote yourself to it. Improve every day. You get out of it what you put into it.”