Iolan takes nursing award

Register Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Iolan Karen Hayes has been recognized by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners with its Award for Excellence for 2010.

It’s the challenge of managing the desperately ill that keeps Karen Hayes enthralled with nursing.
Not that she wants to see people bad off. But if their symptoms are acute, she’s their gal.
Hayes, 57, is a nurse practitioner with specialties in acute care and family practice. She also has a Ph.D. in nursing.
She works at Ashley Clinic in Yates Center and teaches part time at Wichita State University.
Her devotion to the nursing profession was recently recognized by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners which honored her with its Award for Excellence for 2010.
Hayes takes news of the award in stride. It’s her profession and how it’s ever-changing that gets her moving.

IN HER office in Yates Center, Hayes is pretty much top dog. To support her are a secretary, an LPN and a medical assistant. Dr. Brian Keuser of Ashley’s main clinic in Chanute works at the Yates Center clinic Wednesday mornings.
Hayes sees patients from a 30-mile radius, a large percentage are elderly.
“They’re my favorite,” she said of her senior-side patients. She’s known to make house calls to the elderly and she’s at the Yates Center Health Center nursing home several times a week to attend to residents’ needs.
As a profession, nurse practitioners are referred to as mid-levels: They are highly trained nurses who can diagnose and prescribe medications for common conditions. They are licensed through nursing boards rather than medical boards.
“We typically get to spend more time with patients than doctors do,” Hayes said. “Our focus is more on the education of patients and their treatment. We try to get the big picture of a patient, including family background.”
Hayes began her nursing career with the Army after graduation from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1974. She enlisted in the Army her junior year. The Vietnam War was in its final stages.
“I almost got sent there,” she said with a hint of wistfulness. Years later, she was in the same predicament with Desert Storm in Iraq in the 1990s.
Missing out on action is like missing out on “the big dance,” she said. “You do all the training and drills, but never get to put it to use where the real action is.”
Instead, during the Vietnam War she stayed stateside taking care of returning veterans sent to Fort Belvoir outside of Fairfax, Va.
Hayes attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Reserve. She retired from the military in 1996 and is now in the “gray zone” as a Reservist who could be called to action if needed.
After graduating from U of V with a bachelor of science in nursing, she moved to Kansas to attend the University of Kansas to pursue a master’s in nursing. Hayes was long familiar with Kansas through summertime visits to her grandparents in Fredonia.
She grew up in the Washington, D.C. area where her parents had jobs with the federal government. Her childhood fondness of Kansas prompted her move west.
While at KU she met her future husband, Mike, head men’s basketball coach at Allen County Community College. They have three children, Mark, 27, a golf course superintendent in Atlanta; Ana, 24, a soon-to-be graduate of KU with a degree in applied behavioral science; and Greg, 20, a sophomore at ACCC.
Hayes said her career has followed that of her husband’s coaching career. While they lived in Moberly, Mo., for his position at Moberly Area Community College, she attended the University of Missouri at Columbia where she earned her doctorate in nursing, conferred in 1996.
They moved to Iola in 1995.
She has taught at Wichita State’s graduate-level nursing program since 1996 specializing in acute care. The commitment requires one to two days a week of travel there, but the program is becoming increasingly Internet-based, she said, which “is good and bad.”
The advantage students have with Hayes as their instructor is her day-to-day experience as a nurse practitioner still active in the profession. Hayes frequently uses cases from work as teaching opportunities, she said.
To keep her skills honed in acute care, Hayes also works 32 hours a month during weekends in the emergency room at Chanute’s Neosho Memorial Regional Hospital.
“I admit, discharge, do rounds and take phone calls,” she said. Besides being of great value to the physician on call for the weekend, the hospital provides yet another setting from which to draw for her teaching profession.
The future of advanced nursing degrees is to skip the master’s level, Hayes said, and go straight from a bachelor’s to a doctorate. The move is smart, she said, because of the demands of the field.
“This allows for more classes in pharmacology and patho-physiology plus gives students more time to do better research and become better trained in a clinical setting,” she said.
The 70-plus hour doctoral program will take an average of three full time years to complete, she said. It should be no problem to attract candidates for the more strenuous program, which has a goal of being enacted by 2015.
“The master’s programs have always been very competitive,” she said. Four Kansas universities currently offer master’s degrees in nursing, including Fort Hays University, Pittsburg State University, KU and WSU. Upon graduation, “they all have jobs waiting,” she said of the students.
Fewer than 1 percent of nurses in Kansas have Ph.D.s, Hayes said. She’s the only one with a specialty in acute care.

AS A HEALTH provider, Hayes said she’s most concerned about the alarming rise in obesity of her patients.
“I have patients who have steadily gained one pound every time I see them. Pound after pound, it adds up. Five years later, they’ve gained 50 pounds.
“In a way, I think it has more to do with our society than anything else. If we ate like people did in the 1940s or 1950s, we wouldn’t have such a problem with obesity,” she said of the days when people prepared their meals from scratch.
Processed foods, she said, typically are loaded with fat. Lifestyles that center on fast food rather than home-cooking also are doomed to unhealthy eating.
“People need to learn what these foods contain. Education is huge in battling obesity,” she said.

THE GRADUATION picture of a woman in a crisp nurse’s uniform made an impression on Hayes as a child.
“She was Helen Larson, a cousin. I remember the hat and how official she looked. I liked that.”
Then a stint as a candy striper in her youth cemented her path to nursing.
Now 35 years as a nurse, Hayes shows no signs of slowing down and her enthusiasm for the field remains strong.
Nursing, Hayes said, is a giving field that gives back — in duplicate.