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Published on January 23, 2019

Tess Moeller

From Floor Nurse to Fellowship: A Career Journey

Even when Tess Moeller, RN was starting her career as a nurse at Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen she was striving to try new things and explore many aspects of health care.

Throughout her travels, which took her from Aberdeen to Sioux Falls and back again, with several different nursing, staff development and leadership positions along the path, Avera Career Planning Center professionals aided her efforts.

“They were amazing – any request I had was answered, and it really helped me to know what possibilities were out there,” said Moeller, who serves as an administrative fellow with the leadership teams at both Avera St. Luke’s and Avera St. Mary’s hospitals. “Not all companies have a service like this, one that provides ideas for growth and the support employees need to find opportunities.”

A Start in Nursing

Moeller completed her degree in nursing at Augustana College and took a position as an RN at Avera St. Luke’s, serving as an OB nurse for about two years before moving to Avera McKennan, where she worked as both a floor nurse and a resource RN.

“When I was working in Sioux Falls, I completed training to become a lactation counselor, and began work in that area,” she said. “I had a desire for more education and to see where it might lead.”

Moeller completed an MBA while working fulltime and serving on nursing committees. She had conversations with her leaders and peers as well as family and friends. She realized she wanted to delve more deeply into “big picture” opportunities. That led her to finding – and landing – a role as a leadership and organizational development consultant.

“It was a big leap from clinical to non-clinical work, and I had some worries,” she said. “But I had a lot of support from leaders on both sides, and that helped when I faced doubts.”

She also had support from Avera Career Planning Center professionals.

“Tess is a great example of an Avera employee utilizing our resources to create a career path that fit with her skills and aspirations,” said Pam Hilber, PhD, director of Avera Workforce Planning. “We are fortunate that Avera values and provides the Career Planning Service to assist employees who want to build plans for their Avera career journeys. The service also is available to anyone outside of our health system who would like to begin a career at Avera.”

Change in Perspective

Moeller said the insider’s perspective and help she received made a difference as she navigated the transition. “It was a big change, going from monitoring blood pressure and checking vital signs to attending conference calls and considering best practices for service lines” said Moeller. “There were a few nurses on our team, and our leaders really valued our perspectives. I felt I could really help with decisions and guide choices because of my experience on the floor.”

After three years in her new role, Career Planning Services staff again supported Moeller as she found another opportunity. In July 2018, she began work as an administrative fellow. She now has the eye-opening experience of learning about decisions made at the CEO level, what goes into them, as well as seeing things through the lens of directors, managers and employees, too.

“The opportunities for growth with Avera are really unique, and for people like me who appreciate outside-the-box thinking, Career Planning really helped me see these chances I could take,” she said. “This service is a blessing and I hope more employees will take advantage of what it offers.”

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