A Guardian for Families



Pediatrics nurse Deb Ferris quite literally sees her patients grow.

For the past seven years, she’s seen the infants she weighed at their first well-baby exam move to kindergarten vaccinations and on to bigger and better things.

Ear infections, runny noses, coughs and shots are all part of the job in the children’s clinic where animals decorate the walls and the scale is a big elephant. Her little patients are often so excited to come to the doctor that they run to the exam room in front of her.

“We want our patients to grow, be healthy and to help them be the best they can be,” says the registered nurse who works with pediatric patients at Sanford Bemidji Main Clinic. “It’s a big responsibility, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

A childhood dream

When Deb was a young girl she knew several nurses, including the mother of one of her good friends. As a teen, she started her career as an aide in a nursing home, coming in early to help serve breakfast to the residents. The nurses there took her under their wings, mentoring her and serving as an example of the way to do the job.

“They were guardian angels, with a white hat and everything in white,” she says. “I always thought that someday I’d have a white hat with a black stripe and be in that position.”

Deb worked in Nebraska for over 30 years in long-term care before coming to Sanford Health in Bemidji. She started out as a licensed practical nurse, going back to school to become a registered nurse and earn her own white hat 15 years later.

“It was a big moment for me, but by the time I got my hat, nurses really didn’t wear them anymore,” she says with a laugh. “I got to wear my white hat for my graduation photo and that was enough.”

Building relationships

Caring for elderly residents, she got to know her patients’ families well. In some cases she got to care for two or three generations of the same family. Her job was to provide comfort and be their medical guardian of care.

Now that she works with children and their parents, her goal and her mission are the same, to do the best she can for every patient. The families she serves need compassion and quality care, she says.

Deb works face-to-face with her patients and also serves as the clinic’s first contact point, often talking with parents on the phone about their children’s health. Many of the children she sees the most often have special needs or chronic health problems.

“It’s our job to build those relationships and to give them stability and comfort,” Deb said. “Your heart goes to all of them and you think about the struggles they face.”

A committed team

Her colleagues are professional and committed to taking care of patients and working well with each other, Deb said. Teamwork is essential to the job and she appreciates the camaraderie of the nurses at her side.

With a 30 minute commute, Deb has plenty of time to think about her day as she drives to and from work.

“Just about everyday, I sit there and smile,” she says. “When you feel that way going to and coming home from a job, you know that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.”

Posted Date: May 2012

A Guardian for Families

Pediatrics nurse Deb Ferris helps families feel comfort and security as their children grow. She treats children with bumps and bruises, runny noses and coughs or even chronic conditions with compassion and care.