SIOUX CENTER — Sioux Center Health welcomed a new nurse practitioner to its medical clinic staff Monday, Oct. 12.
Twenty-eight-year-old Valerie Van Zandbergen of Newkirk is excited to work in the county she’s been a part of since 2010.
Having grown up on a farm near Kanawha in north central Iowa, she first came to Sioux County to attend Northwestern College in Orange City to become a registered nurse. She stayed in the county after marrying her husband, Keith, after graduating in 2014.
Van Zandbergen worked as a nurse for Sanford Sheldon Medical Center while taking online classes through Clarkson College in Omaha to become a nurse practitioner. She graduated in 2018 and began working in a clinic in Cherokee until her move to Sioux Center Health this month.
Having a 5-month-old son, Sawyer, was part of the reason for her recent job change.
“I’ve had a desire to work in the community where I live and being closer to home also allows more family time,” Van Zandbergen said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity. I’m looking forward to meeting the people of the community and getting to know them at a level that I can take care of their and their family’s health.”
Van Zandbergen has had an interest in the medical field since her youth.
“In second grade I found my interest in health care,” she said. “We dissected a sheep’s eye and had to learn all the parts of it. After we did that, the next class was art and I chose to draw a diagram of the eye and label it. That really started my interest in something in health care.”
She knew since high school that she was leaning toward becoming a nurse practitioner.
“I’ve always liked the part of being a detective, where you can examine and can diagnose someone,” she said. “The nurse side is more hands-on but you don’t get to know the patients as much. I liked the idea of being able to get to know patients on a deeper level.”
That’s the main reason she was interested in rural health care also.
“Being raised on a farm, I always liked the small town feel,” she said. “I feel like you’re able to get to know your patients on a deeper level, you get to know their families, not just the one person. I feel like patients are able to open up to you more and be more honest with you about their health. That way I’m also better able to care for their health.”
Being a nurse practitioner is more than just being a certified nurse, she said.
“We’ve been taught to look at the whole person and figure out, based off labs, what’s going on,” Van Zandbergen said. “It’s similar to family practice doctors, we just don’t do the bigger things like deliver babies. What we’re known for is preventive health. We want to focus on ways a person can be preventive in their health — get their screenings, get mammograms, get that colonoscopy, work on weight loss, exercise, diet, all before getting on medication.”
Van Zandbergen said her job includes making diagnoses, writing prescriptions, going simple procedures and removals, help manage chronic patients and seeing acute patients of all ages, newborns to elderly.
“Doctors have a lot more responsibleness and a little less time for family; I was wanting to find something that was a happy medium and believe this is the perfect role for me,” she said.
When she’s not a work, Van Zandbergen enjoys spending time with her husband and son, she loves being outdoors, including fishing, and she enjoys doing crafty things.
Her main focus will be working at Sioux Center Health Medical Clinic but also may help fill in at Hull and Hawarden clinics.