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Family Nurse Practitioner is delighted to return to home state

Heather Lautt, the new family nurse practitioner at Trinity Community Clinic-Kenmare, left North Dakota shortly after her graduation from Minot High School and never really expected to return.

1/19/11 (Wed)


Heather Lautt, the new family nurse practitioner at Trinity Community Clinic-Kenmare, left North Dakota shortly after her graduation from Minot High School and never really expected to return.


Nearly 14 years later, she’s happy to be back in her home state and delighted to be working as a rural health care provider.


Lautt was born and raised in Minot, where her parents still live, although she has rented a separate residence there. She commutes to her new job in Kenmare and spends a few nights in town each week because in addition to her hours at the clinic, she covers the ER at Kenmare Community Hospital some evenings and weekends.


And enjoys every minute of it. “I’m absolutely loving my time here,” she said. “Working with Dr. Sabiiti and Jody [Olson], how can you get better? The people of Kenmare are spoiled. Everyone here has been fantastic!”


When Lautt earned her FNP degree last August, she realized a lifelong dream. “Nursing is my ultimate passion,” she said. “I love to help people who are sick and in need. At the core of who I am, I am a nurse.”


Lautt described herself as having a longtime interest in medicine. “Then I enjoyed learning the art and science of nursing,” she said, “and incorporated medical technology into my nursing degree.”


Lautt started her educational journey in Hepburn, Saskatchewan, north of Saskatoon, where she earned a diploma in biblical studies, then moved to Hesston, Kansas, home to about 4,000 people and Hesston College. She earned an associate’s degree in nursing and continued pursuing her goal with a bachelor’s degree from Tabor College in Wichita, Kansas.


She laughed about her desire to live in Kansas. “I was looking for a change,” she said, “and these were all small steps. It was part-time school with a full-time job while I was working toward the dream.”


However, she was employed as an RN in a family nurse practitioner’s office. “That way, I got a ton of experience assisting the kind of person I would become,” she said.


She is also a committed sports fan, so she enrolled at the University of Kansas in Lawrence to earn her master’s degree. “I really, really wanted to become a Kansas Jayhawk,” she said, laughing.


As her focus shifted from coursework to a career, she realized the job market, even in health care, was poor in many states because of the nation’s lingering economic troubles. “I would be visiting with my parents and hearing how this is the big, booming place to be,” she said. “I was looking for jobs when I heard about this opening through Trinity [Health]. I had no hesitation. I was just excited to come up here and interview.”


Her enthusiasm for working as a health care provider in a small community was fueled by a six-week clinical rotation she spent last spring in Tribune, Kansas, population 800.


“I fell in love with the small, close community,” she said, adding that her patients expressed appreciation for her presence and her work. “I chose to go out there and get to know them and take care of them, and it was extremely rewarding for me. I knew then if I had the chance to practice in rural America, I would take that chance.”


Lautt herself appreciates the effort needed to fund and staff health care facilities in rural communities. “I want to be a part of that and keep it going,” she said.


She started seeing patients in Kenmare on January 6th, but actually worked in the emergency room at Trinity Hospital in Minot for two weeks before beginning her schedule at the clinic.


These days, Lautt’s first priority is to become familiar with the community and people of Kenmare, along with treating patients. She will be spending several nights in town each week as she remains available for the hospital, and she hopes to attend school sporting events and visit with other Honker fans while cheering on the teams. “I’ll be up here [in Kenmare] on call, and I love to get out,” she said. “I want to get involved with whatever’s local and watch every game I possibly can!”


She enjoys reading and walking. “I forgot how beautiful North Dakota can be,” she said about her years away from the state, “and I’m looking forward to walking on the [Des Lacs] refuge.”


She has a commitment to continuing her education and a strong interest in women’s health that may lead her to pursue further studies to enhance her skills in that field. She also admitted to another passion for “hot topics” in health care, especially as related to human-caused or natural catastrophes. “When the events of September 11th [2001] happened, I was in school working on my associate’s degree, knowing that in the future I would be able to do something to help,” she said.


When other major disasters occurred, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, she experienced a similar response. “I’m always thinking about what I could do in those situations,” she said, adding that because of her love of travel she could see herself someday joining an organization that would provide medical care in those circumstances.


Right now, however, she stands ready to provide health care to her new acquaintances in Kenmare and the surrounding towns. Appointments with Lautt can be scheduled by calling the clinic at 701-385-4283, Monday through Friday between 8 am and 5 pm.


“I look forward to being busy,” she said, “and getting to know members of the different communities we serve here!”