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Published on August 16, 2022

Avera St Lukes ob team

‘Skill, Science and Heart’ Is Perfect Career Combination for Long-Time Aberdeen Nurse

Being present when humans are at their most vulnerable is something Yvonne Gillick does every shift.

As an obstetrics registered nurse, she gets to be an active participant in the miracle of life.

Even after four decades of experience, “it’s always an amazing experience. I still feel it, every time.”

Gillick began caring for women, babies and families at Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen in 1979. She began as a nursing assistant, working on the surgical care floor, geriatrics and other areas.

“My mother worked as a nurse’s aide for 44 years,” she said. Other mentors shaped her perspective on care, too.

“I had an amazing OB instructor when I was in nursing school, and she made a difference in my life,” Gillick said. So she continued on that path in her profession.

Childbirth is unique, every single time, Gillick said. It varies greatly.

“For some moms and dads, it’s the first time they’ve ever been to a hospital,” she said. “No matter what happens, we’re there to help them adjust and bring home that precious new baby.”

Helping New Nurses Find Their Way

Gillick’s roles vary day-to-day, as she spends time in labor and delivery, the newborn nursery and in the postpartum unit. Each area has its own unique appeals and dramatic moments.

Gillick remembers the people who guided her when she was green and perhaps a little scared.

“When you’re new and it’s scary, you look for people who can help you navigate all the twists and turns, and I had them,” Gillick said. “Now it’s my chance to emulate my mentors and do for others what they did for me.”

There are milestones that stand out, like a day when she was part of a team that brought 17 babies into the world in just 24 hours.

“It was nearly a blizzard, but everyone did what was necessary to make sure we took care of each patient – moms and their babies, sure, but dads and siblings, too,” Gillick said.

Why Nursing Matters

Her long career in OB has been with Avera. Gillick said part of the reason is that she believes in its mission and values.

The core values of Avera's mission are compassion, hospitality and stewardship. Compassion resonated with her.

"Caring for others and hopefully easing the burden of what illness, pain or life event they are experiencing is such sacred work," she said "It's a true privilege."

Gillick said that when she began her career, a plaque on the wall in the lobby of Avera St. Luke’s stayed with her. It reads: “The Charity of Christ Urges Us On.”

"That plaque is still on the wall," she added. "That message still speaks to me, and honestly, I feel like I'm part of a mission the Sisters started more than 120 years ago."

Continuing in a Rich Tradition

Gillick’s many experiences shaped her. They helped her become the nurse she is today.

“Understanding people – being able to read them – that’s a giant part of nursing,” Gillick said. “There’s a lot of joy in our department. We do get to share in rewarding situations. But that’s just part of it.”

In just a few seconds, obstetrics care can change from routine to emergency. Challenges abound – and nurses accept this and face them with their skill and talent – all while keeping patients at the center of their focus.

Gillick has several family members who also work at Avera St. Luke’s. While it’s enjoyable to have that family connection, it’s not the main reason she comes back for every new shift.

“Nursing is a unique combination of skill, science and heart – it’s the art of nursing,” she said. “Being ready for joy, for sorrow – for whatever your patient needs at the moment – that’s what we do, every day.”

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