If laughter is indeed the best medicine, then we should all hope to meet Audrey Herman.
“When I walk into a patient’s room, and we joke a little bit, and I can see them relax,” she says, “I love that so much.”
The Mobridge native is in her 45th year of putting in long hours as a registered nurse. “On a normal day, my alarm clock goes off about 3:30, 3:45. There’s a lot to get ready!” she says with a laugh.
Herman has been in the Sanford Health Same-Day Surgery wing since the day it opened in 1984. There she helps patients prep for anything from a hernia to open-heart surgery.
“All of us as human beings want to be in control of ourselves,” Herman says. “When you come into surgery, we take your clothes, we take your food, we take your watch, and we say ‘You just sit here in this gown.’ That can be really difficult for a patient. That’s why I like to sprinkle a little humor in it.”
It might sound funny, but if you ask her, cracking jokes on the job is a crucial part of good bedside manner.
“When they laugh, they take deeper breaths, they get more oxygen in their lungs,” she explains. “If they feel better, and you have a rapport with your patient, they’re gonna tell you more about them that we didn’t see on paper.”
That, she says, is what her job is all about: putting patients at ease, even when their lives are turning upside-down.
“Little things that I can do that’ll make a difference in their life,” Herman says. “Not like, ‘Oh Audrey, you’re so wonderful!’ That’s not it. But maybe I made it better for them so that when they go home they might not have such a tough day. That’s what’s more important, is that you take it home.”
Audrey Herman — the RN with the right outlook — is Someone You Should Know.