National Nurses Week is celebrated from May 6 through 12 to recognize nurses’ hard work and celebrate their compassionate spirits. One such nurse is Laura Wueste. As the lead nurse practitioner for cardiovascular services at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, she addresses not only the needs of patients’ physical hearts, but also their emotional needs as well, recognizing that both components play a role in helping patients heal. Her friend and colleague Melanie Chen, ACNP-BC, had this to say about Laura:
No matter the situation, professionally or personally, Laura demonstrates hard work and compassion, creating a special type of leadership that people are naturally drawn to and respect.
Since joining Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, Laura spearheaded the establishment of the nurse practitioner role for the cardiovascular and thoracic surgery program. She currently serves as the lead nurse practitioner, and her leadership contributed to the facility’s three-star recognition by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons for heart bypass surgery. Her passion for what she does is not only seen, but felt deeply, as she consistently bridges the gap between the bedside nurses and physicians, advocating for her patients and creating better collaboration among healthcare providers. Working side by side with Laura for the last year and a half, I have never worked with anyone who gives so much of her time and attention to every patient she cares for. Not only is she willing to work on challenging projects, but I have seen her resolve conflicts and handle many difficult situations with remarkable patience and admirable tact.
Laura has that special quality that puts people at ease. We deal with very challenging and often emotionally charged, situations in the surgical ICU, and Laura represents the “calm in the chaos.” While she has a peaceful presence and utilizes a soft tone, she can easily take command of a room. I’ve seen Laura come in on her weekends off when a patient has taken a turn for the worse so she can be with families, encourage the healthcare team, and ensure all steps are being taken to provide healing, compassionate care. She has been known to give out her personal cell number to patient families. Our team calls her first and looks to her for guidance during nights and weekends.
She also cares not just for patients, but for the next generation of nurses. She hates turning any student away and routinely has nurse practitioner students shadowing her. As a testament to her mentorship, one of her former students is now working side-by-side with her! When it comes to current nurses, Laura gently teaches the nurses at the bedside when she sees something that could have been done differently.
Laura’s efforts do not end when she leaves the hospital. In her community, I have seen her going out of her way to help people. For example, Laura welcomed people into her home and provided them with food and a place to stay during Hurricane Harvey. She called the unit every day, checking on the staff and patients. Laura also volunteered for several months at the George R. Brown Convention Center and her church by providing medical care in the aftermath of the hurricane. She loves people, works hard and always lifts the spirits of those around her. I believe these are the characteristics and qualities that represent all that is good for our System and for health care in general.
She is truly a hero in the healthcare community. I am very proud to work under Laura’s leadership as well as call myself her friend.
Wueste is just one of many nurses across the Memorial Hermann system who are dedicated, providing high-quality health care while maintaining a caring and considerate attitude. In honor of Nurses Week, we are pausing to recognize them for their service, but their hard work and compassion are appreciated 365 days of the year.