“It’s the ones that we save, that get to walk out the door, that keep you coming back every day.”

Alyssa Hanekamp, St. Mary’s Medical Intensive Care Unit Nurse

Alyssa Hanekamp always wanted to be a doctor, but a passion for singing led her to a music major in college. On her mother’s sage advice to have a back-up plan no matter what she eventually decided to do in life, she enrolled in nursing courses at Blackhawk Technical College. During the course of her clinical work at various hospitals in the Janesville area, she fell in love with bedside care.

“It’s the best part of my job,” she says.

Working at St. Mary’s medical ICU unit for the last six years, Hanekamp says she’s never once regretted her decision to forego medical school for a career in nursing.

“We work very closely with the doctors in intensive care and they allow us to use the knowledge that we have,” she says.

She also doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on family with a shift schedule—common in her field—that allows her to have multiple days off at a time and an incredible support network of friends and family who help out at home. Hanekamp is married with three young children, and for now, the lifestyle works.

“This is stable for me,” she says.

As it turns out, the intensive care environment suits her, too.

“It’s your direct action that gets people through the good or the bad,” says Hanekamp.

There’s certainly no shortage of blood-pumping, critical care work in her current role, which she shares on rotation with a total of fifty-one nurses on a twelve-bed unit.

Inevitably, though, there will always be those shifts that take their physical and emotional tolls, which is why she relishes the hour-long commute. “Some days you just cry all the way home from work,” Hanekamp says.

On both good days and bad, Hanekamp is thankful for “the best co-workers you could ask for,” and for the opportunity to “change people’s lives.”

“It’s the ones that we save, that get to walk out the door, that keep you coming back every day.”

Laurie Gomoll-Koch is one of those patients. Late last year , bacterial meningitis followed by a heart attack landed Gomoll-Koch in St. Mary’s for six weeks. Not only did Hanekamp provide expert medical care, Gomoll-Koch says she went above and beyond for her husband and two sons, including regular private updates to her youngest, Taylor, who attended college four hours away.

“She is more than a nurse,” writes Gomoll-Koch in her nomination letter for “Madison’s Favorite Nurses.” “She was our lifeline.”

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