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Why I’m Here

Inpatient Rehabilitation Nurse Seeks Challenges for 35 Years

Gillette Children's inpatient rehabilitation nurse, Stephanie Lurken

Gillette Children’s Charge Nurse for the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit, Stephanie Lurken, RN, has devoted 35 years to giving families excellent service. Being a nurse was not her original dream.

As a young girl growing up in Texas, Lurken thought she might become a flight attendant so she could follow in her father’s footsteps.

“My dad was a pilot and I really love to travel to be of service to people,” Lurken says with a smile. “But when you have two kids it’s probably better for everyone if you’re not taking off and traveling around the world!”

A “Help Wanted” ad in the newspaper in 1988 prompted Lurken to apply for a secretarial job in what today is Gillette’s Orthotics, Prosthetics and Seating (OPS) department.  

“The main part of my job was to type up the hand-written notes the orthotists made when fitting each child for a device,” Lurken recalls. “I was not familiar with many of the medical terms being used so I decided to take a medical terminology class.”

That class inspired Lurken to push herself and seek new challenges. She took on several administrative roles at Gillette clinics before she decided to expand her career once again.

"I haven't left!"

“Gillette has always been a place that supports continuing education,” Lurken says. “I decided nursing would be a good fit for me and, I went back to school to get my nursing degree. Gillette was great about letting me be flexible with my work hours and provided tuition help.”

Lurken graduated from Metro State University in 1997, she says she felt very lucky to land a nursing position at Gillette.

“I started as a nightshift nurse in the inpatient rehab unit, and I haven’t left!” Lurken marvels.

Stephanie Lurken smiles with other nurses.

Stephanie Lurken appreciates the hard work and support she receives from other nurses in the Gillette inpatient rehabilitation unit. 

35 years and counting

Lurken’s dedication to her patients impressed her two daughters who both decided to follow their mother in the nursing profession.

Larissa Lurken is marking her 5-year anniversary as an RN in Gillette’s orthopedic surgical unit. Like her mother, Larissa is pushes herself into new challenges, and is currently pursuing her DNP degree from Maryville University based in St. Louis, MO.

“My mom is extremely intelligent, compassionate and kind,” Larissa says. “My sister and I are proud of all she’s accomplished.”

Stephanie Lurken recently won the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. It is an international recognition program created to honor the compassion and care nurses provide their patients.

Stephanie and Larissa Lurken stand in front of the main inpatient rehabilitation nursing station.

Stephanie Lurken is proud her daughter, Larissa, is also nurse at Gillette Children's. 

Cruising to the future

Lurken plans to devote more years taking care of Gillette families but reports she and her husband are already talking about future plans to retire and are in the process of building a house in Florida.

One of her favorite activities is taking cruises. “The running joke in my family is that I should become a travel agent when I retire,” Lurken laughs. “I love looking for good travel deals and going on adventures with my friends and family.”

A simple legacy

Lurken says it’s an honor to work with the unique patient population at Gillette. She believes the mission, and the devoted teamwork at Gillette makes a difference.

“I really love working here,” Lurken says. “When I do retire, I hope the legacy I leave behind is, ‘She really LOVED her job’ and she led with compassion and patience. If that’s my legacy, then that’s wonderful.”