BISMARCK, N.D. • Ever since Kenadee Kudrna job-shadowed at a local hospital, she has wanted to become a critical care nurse, helping those most in need of medical care.

She is on the path to becoming a nurse by studying at the University of Mary and interning at CHI St. Alexius Health Bismarck Medical Center. As a senior nursing student, she is on target to graduate in the spring of 2022.

“My future plans include becoming a critical care nurse in the intensive care unit. I hope to strive through the critical care field by obtaining a CCRN certification,” she said. The CCRN is a certification for nurses who provide care to acutely or critically ill patients. “My dream is to become a CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) after gaining critical care experience.”

Kudrna grew up on a farm in South Heart, N.D., with her parents and two siblings, both of whom attended the University of Mary. She said her siblings have been and remain strong influences in her life.

Kenadee Kudrna, second from the left, is seen with her classmates at the University of Mary. They volunteered to help with rapid-COVID testing during the coronavirus pandemic. 'For that,' she says, 'we worked with the Department of Health and helped register, swab, and read results.'
Kenadee Kudrna, second from the left, is seen with her classmates at the University of Mary. They volunteered to help with rapid-COVID testing during the coronavirus pandemic. 'For that,' she says, 'we worked with the Department of Health and helped register, swab, and read results.'Image: Courtesy of Kenadee Kudrna

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What drew her to start exploring the medical field, however, was after going through some personal health issues. As such, she had many appointments with doctors to try to figure out a treatment.

“Through these appointments, my nurses were the ones who really supported me,” she said. “I started to explore the profession and job shadow. I fell in love.”

She has been a certified nursing assistant in both assisted living and intensive care units, and currently is a nurse intern in the ICU at CHI St. Alexius. Over the past year of the pandemic, Kudrna said she has worked with a number of COVID-19 patients. It has been tough for her to see so many suffer from the virus. Some of them have recovered, she said, but even among that group there are some who still deal with lingering after-effects.

Kudrna said she chose the University of Mary for a number of reasons, including its nursing program being ranked No. 1 in the country for two consecutive years by Mountain Measurements, a national nursing benchmarking service, and the CHI senior-year-free scholarship.

“These are both amazing opportunities I wouldn't get anywhere else,” she said. “Knowing I am a part of such a prestigious nursing program is an honor.”

According to information from the university, the school was founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation, and has more than 3,800 students, representative of 47 states and 24 countries. It has a 96% placement rate after graduation.

Kudrna has no doubt that her professors “will prepare me for my nursing profession and life as well,” she said. “The CHI scholarship helps me to chase my dream of becoming a critical care nurse with less financial burden.”