Lori Walters, '20, MSN

Nurse Lori Walters talks to a patient

Lori Walters remembers herself as a 10-year-old girl sitting in the hospital for 10 weeks with her grandfather, who was being treated for esophageal cancer. He got a complete laryngectomy, had a stoma, and had to re-learn to talk.

“We spent every night in the hospital there,” she recalls. “So, I watched the nurses.”

The nurses didn’t just care for Walter’s grandfather.

“I watched how they changed his day,” she said.

Those interactions sparked a passion in Walters to care for and help others.

As an adult, she took care of her mother for many years. Her mom had end-stage COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a lung disorder.

“It was helping her all my life that I think keeps motivated to help others,” she said.

Life experiences shape who we are, and it’s the people along the way who set examples for us.

“I think that, if you think back in your life, maybe when something happened to you or maybe when your children were born, you'll remember maybe that one nurse that really made a difference,” she said. “That you couldn't have gotten through that without them.

“You never forget that moment and I wanted to do that for others, too.”

Walters has worked health care jobs for more than 30 years, serving as a hospital nurse in the burn ICU, pediatric ICU, neuro ICU, ER, as well as within the open heart and transplant areas.

She wanted to add to her medical career and eyed becoming a nurse practitioner.

“I was told by a nurse that worked at Saint Luke's that I would get better clinical skills and enrich my nursing career,” she said.

Walters completed the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) program (MSN) in May 2020 at Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences at Rockhurst University. She’s now pursuing the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) degree (MSN) at Saint Luke’s.

“If I wanted to go back and learn nurse practitioner-type skill sets and thought processes, [I’d go] to the same program because I trusted it then and I believe in it now,” she said.

As a family nurse practitioner, Walters wants to be able to treat patients at any age and not just the adult or aging population. The additional health care program makes her more well-rounded.

“I don't want to be limited,” she said. “I want to be able to be in a facility that can treat both – all of them  – because [sic] acute care is looking at the sickest of all patients and the family nurse practitioner degree, that is really looking at how you're going to put people back into the community.

“It's wellness, it's health promotion, it's immunizations, it's eating right, it's those types of things,” she continued. “So, putting the whole thing together I think makes a good, rounded, hopefully, nurse practitioner.”

Walter felt the combination of Saint Luke’s and Rockhurst provided her a greater educational opportunity in Kansas City.

“Saint Luke's, as well as the combination with Rockhurst together, they're going to give a very complete education,” she said. “They're going to follow up on what they say they're going to do, they're going to keep checking on you, and if you were to have any questions or have concerns, they're there.

“You're not a number. You have a name. They know who you are, and they care about you.”

For someone like Walters, who has had a passion for caring for others since she was watching nurses in the hospital at age 10, Saint Luke’s has proven to be a perfect match for furthering her career.

Video version available