By Kelsey Hoffmann
They pulled up to the hospital at 11 a.m. With no air conditioning, the car was sweltering hot, but she did not mind. She was just excited that her dad let her come along to pick mom up from work. But as the minutes passed by, the excitement dwindled. After 45 minutes of waiting, her dad let out a groan and uttered, “These nurses work too hard.”
Memories like these have stuck with Laura Noren. Spending her childhood observing her mom’s work ethic taught Laura invaluable lessons and has molded her into the nurse she is today.
Getting on board
Throughout her career, Laura, who has worked at Boone Hospital Center since 1992, has taken on positions and challenges that have pushed her to exceed expectations. In February, the work ethic that her mother instilled in her proved beneficial when she was nominated to the Missouri State Board of Nursing.
In the summer of 2013, one of Laura’s sisters, Wendy, put the idea in her mind to apply for the board.
“My family has always been politically minded,” Laura said. “My father was director of Missouri Department of Conservation for many years, and I grew up in that kind of culture. My sister is also a public servant as the Boone County clerk.”
The political drive she learned from her father and the passion for nursing she inherited from her mother had Laura intrigued by the possibility of serving on the board. However, she knew it would mean a significant time commitment, so before she did anything she had a conversation with Dr. Mary Beck, vice president and chief nursing officer. After receiving her full support, Laura applied.
In February, she got the call that Gov. Jay Nixon nominated her for the board.
“I was very excited,’ Laura said. “I called my sister first. I let my husband know, too, but I called Wendy first.”
Laura will serve on the board until June 1, 2016. During that time, she and eight other board members will oversee the 130,000 nurses in the state of Missouri.
“[The nomination] is beneficial to the hospital and BJC because I will have a better understanding of what the profession expects,” Laura said. “The board oversees the rules and regulations. There have been times we are making decisions here, and we will contact the state board of nursing for an interpretation. I think being on the board will help me gain insight of how they view things, which will in turn help the hospital.”
Stealing the show
In February, Laura went to Jefferson City, Mo., for Sen. Kurt Schaeffer to introduce her to the senate and have her nomination approved. Laura and her small entourage of her mom, her best friend, Dr. Beck and Monica Smith, the Boone Hospital cardiac and cardiothoracic surgery service line director, had the honor of attending a ceremony at the capital and touring the governor’s office. But Laura admits the experience would not have been the same without her mom.
“She kind of stole the show a bit,” Laura said. “Everyone was impressed with her career and her influence.”
Laura was happy to share the glory. After all, it was her mother who led her to nursing and guided her through her career.
Like mother, like daughter
Laura’s mother, Ann Noren, 92, was a nurse in World War II before settling in Jefferson City with her husband, Carl. Ann soon got a job at St. Mary’s Health Center and, over time, worked her way to become what would be referred to as today as director of women’s and children’s health.
Ann was well respected by her colleagues and was often described as a great mentor. Laura would be the first to confirm her mother’s natural ability to guide nurses.
“She actually gave me my first job,” Laura said. “Back in the days when you could hire your own children.”
In 1969, Laura started working under her mother as a nursing aide in the newborn nursery. It was during this time that Laura absorbed many lessons from her mother.
“She was very calm and very respectful,” Laura said. “She was fair and hardworking. She didn’t ask anything of her staff that she wouldn’t jump in and do.”
Laura learned patience, determination and leadership skills from her mother. In February, her mother’s influence on her career became even more evident when Laura accepted the position of service line director of women’s and children’s health at Boone Hospital Center.
“I think my mom is really excited that it’s come full circle and that I am going to be doing this,” Laura said.
Preparing the next generation
Laura’s mom has been happy to see her daughter succeed in so many different areas of nursing.
“I think sometimes I baffle her about the different things that I pick up because really these opportunities weren’t there when she was a nurse,” Laura said.
With her great accomplishments and her natural ability to lead, Laura has proved that she, like her mother, is capable of preparing nurses for a successful career.
“I have wonderful staff who are newer in their roles, and I really enjoy trying to help them learn and teach and grow,” Laura said. “My goal is to step out of the way and let somebody else step in.”
Continuing to serve
Laura does not know what will happen after her position with the board is finished, but she hopes to spend the rest of her career at Boone Hospital Center.
“I’m a true Boonie,” she said. “I am very loyal to this hospital and care about it deeply. It’s a family. It sounds so catchy, but it’s true. People care about each other here.”
Even after retirement, there is a good chance she will not give up her love of nursing. Laura’s mother served at hospitals, including Boone Hospital Center, until her late 80s. Laura seems to have adopted her drive.
“It’s hard to complain or feel like you are overwhelmed or tired or something because you look at her and go, well… never mind,” Laura said. “If she can do it, I can do it.”