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A Family Calling to Care



Sanford nurse Amy Timm remembers vividly the day she got to follow her mother to the hospital for Take Your Daughter to Work Day.

She watched her mother, registered nurse Mary Dyvig, as she took those extra moments with each patient at the hospital, spending the time to answer a question or simply hold a hand to ease someone’s fears. That was the day she knew she wanted to follow her mother into nursing as a profession.

“I saw love and caring and devotion that she gave to her patients – it was the kind of love she showed to us,” said Amy, clinical care coordinator for cardiology and a cross trainer to critical care. “Watching her with her patients and her colleagues was uplifting and amazing.”

The two women are not the only ones in the family to answer the call by working as a nurse at Sanford Health. Joining them at the hospital last February was Dyvig’s younger daughter Emily Law, a newly graduated registered nurse who works in critical care.

A family’s dedication

With facial features so similar that the three get mistaken for each other on the job, they share an air of gentle, friendly kindness as they sit together in a quiet meeting room just off the cardiology unit. When they get together, other relatives tease them about their commitment to the job, a term the family calls, “riding the nursing bus.”

All three women say they love their profession, a job that requires them to think on their feet and put the needs of others first, day after day.

“I was honored and excited to see them go into this profession,” said Mary, a clinical care coordinator in the hospital’s Family Suites and GYN unit. She has served Sanford since 1983. “What we do is so important and they saw the value of that.”

Growing up in a house with a mother who worked as a registered nurse, her two daughters say they experienced first hand the Nursing lifestyle – watching their mother work rotating shifts, weekends and holidays. Both girls were experts at playing quietly when their mother worked nights.

“We understood that at our house sometimes Santa came two days after Christmas,” jokes Emily. “Somehow he knew to come when mom was done working.”

Yet, even knowing that their mother had a demanding, sometimes difficult job, they both followed in her path, studying nursing at South Dakota State University and then coming to work at Sanford.

During her years as a nursing student, Emily got to spend time in several different hospitals, but nothing compared to her experience at Sanford. The professionalism of the nursing staff and the way they train and support their nurses made her decision to come to Sanford an easy choice.

“When I was here, I could tell it was right. It felt like home,” Emily said.

A voice for change

Over the years, Mary has worked in a variety of areas throughout the hospital. She moved into clinical care coordinating and joined the Performance Improvement team, because she liked assisting in improving patient care.

“Sanford has been a place where you can make a positive impact on the practice of nursing,” said Mary. “I’ve always felt that my contributions are valued and that I can work to make changes.”

Amy, who has worked as a registered nurse at Sanford since 2007, said she appreciates all the aspects of her job. As Sanford’s Recruitment and Retention Chair, she enjoys educating and working with her colleagues. With patients, her job is to help heal and sometimes just to be there as a comforting presence. She describes her job as “part medical worker, part social worker and part educator.”

“I get to help people get better, but sometimes I work with them as they are going out of the world,” Amy said. “It is rewarding to know you can help make someone’s last days or hours a little better.”

Shared appreciation

The mother and daughters say they have an added advantage of being able to understand the challenges of the job. Emily recently moved into the lower level of her older sister’s home, something that is possible since both of them respect the other’s work schedule and profession.

“We all understand, more than other people, how you can get tired as a nurse, not just physically tired, but emotionally and spiritually tired,” Amy said. “We know what it’s like and what to do to help you restore yourself.”

Mary believes, at the end of the day, it is nice to know you have done your best to help others. She adds, “And that you’re working for an organization committed to positive change.”

“They call what we do ‘the front lines of health care.’ If you’re going to be successful at that, you’ve got to really like what you’re doing,” Mary said. “It is really something incredible.”

Posted Date: May 2011

A Family Calling to Care

In this mother/daughter team of nurses, reaching out to patients and improving health care for everyone is all part of the job. Registered Nurses Mary Dyvig and her daughters Amy Timm and Emily Law say they love working on the frontlines of health care at Sanford Health.