The Sky’s the Limit



When Todd Persson began working in the intensive care unit at Sanford, he didn’t anticipate he would take his skills to the sky. Now as a flight nurse for the Sanford Air Medical Transport team, he can’t imagine doing anything else.

“A lot of people say once you start flying, it gets in your blood,” says Todd. “You never know where the job will take you. Our offices are on the highway, road ditches, and fields – wherever we're needed. Each day brings an interesting aspect.”

Vast opportunities

The opportunities available to Sanford employees have allowed Todd to have a variety of choices for his career path. In larger cities, it can take longer to advance within a health system. For Todd, it took him just three years to become part of the flight team.

“In a lot of cities, it can take many, many years to get on a flight team,” Todd says. “I am amazed at how quickly you can advance through the system and move up the ranks here.”

Todd isn’t satisfied yet, and is currently enrolled in graduate school to become a nurse practitioner. Sanford is a supporter of career and education advancement for employees. They show this support through programs such as tuition reimbursement. Todd has also been working with the Center for Learning to arrange a clinical rotation, which has made his experience much easier.

“The center basically gets everything set up for you, to make those contacts,” he says. “They take the burden off your plate, which is such a big help.”

In addition to his graduate school education, Todd is required to maintain several different certifications to continue in his current position with the flight team. This can mean time outside of work to complete the requirements, but Sanford is there to help. Todd is reimbursed for any time spent outside of work once the course or certification is successfully completed.

Family values

For Todd, he sees Sanford as a smaller community within Sioux Falls. He considers his coworkers and colleagues a part of his extended family.

“It is a big organization, but when I’m out in the community, I see familiar faces from the hospital,” Todd says.

Sanford also understands the importance of personal family time. When Todd’s daughter was born, he had the chance to take an extended amount of time off to be with his wife and child.

“Because of Sanford and the great team in air transport, I was able to take a full month off,” Todd says. “It’s really nice to have your coworkers and Sanford, as a whole, stand behind you during those times.”

What made it better was that his wife is also member of the Sanford family, so the two had ample time to share in the experience together.

Todd also sees the difference Sanford is making for a much larger family unit - his Sioux Falls community. He recognized the value in the various initiatives that are already making an impact, or will in the future.

“Sanford’s donations help promote the family aspect of the city,” Todd says. “The event center and new football fields out by the airport are great additions. My kids will be able to take part in those some day. Sanford just keeps giving back.”

Gratifying work

Working in health care can be challenging, but when it comes to his patients, Todd reaps the benefits every day. He recalled a significant moment early in his career when he was able to be involved with an organ donation process from start to finish.

“We had a patient come in to the ICU following a car accident,” Todd says. “He had severe head injuries. I took care of him over a three-day span, and on the third day he progressed into brain death.”

This patient then became an organ donor, and Todd was even present for the surgery to procure the patient’s organs. A few weeks later, a package was delivered from the family, thanking Todd for his efforts.

“It was very touching,” Todd says. “It makes me appreciate of my role here at Sanford.”

Todd is also appreciative of the support and advancements Sanford has offered his colleagues. A recent merger with Fargo allowed the air programs to combine, adding a whole new fleet of aircraft. He also commends his management team on the leadership they’ve provided.

“I’m happy to see where it's taken us,” Todd says. “Our flight numbers have increased, our practice has progressed and we always stay current with national standards and certifications.”

By far, though, it’s the patients he encounters that bring the most satisfaction.

“The most interesting part of my job at Sanford is the complexity of the patients we come across,” Todd says. “As part of the flight team, I’m trained in advanced procedures not taught in nursing school. I see things I never thought I’d see – it keeps me coming back every day.”

Posted Date: August 2013

The Sky’s the Limit

Todd Persson, Flight Nurse at Sanford AirMed in Sioux Falls
"The most interesting part of my job at Sanford is the complexity of the patients we come across," he says. "As part of the flight team, I'm trained in advanced procedures not taught in nursing school. I see things I never thought I'd see - it keeps me coming back."