A mother-daughter bond is special. Done well, it flourishes throughout a lifetime. Susan (Nef) Leddy and her youngest daughter, Kate, are extending that bond into their professional lives.
Susan is a certified nurse practitioner (CNP) for Avera Medical Group Milbank at the Wilmot Clinic. Kate is a student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, enrolled in the nursing program.
Susan first experienced nursing at age 16, when she took a job at the Whetstone Valley Nursing Home. As her senior year of high school approached, Susan’s father, Rudy Nef, struck up a conversation with her about college and her future. “I was a typical 18 year-old with no idea what I wanted to do,” Susan said. “My dad asked about my job at the nursing home and I said it was fine. So, he said, “We are going to sign you up for nursing classes. I didn’t have a better idea, so that’s what we agreed to do.”
Susan enrolled at St. Cloud State, but when she arrived, she discovered they did not have a nursing program. “At the end of my first year, I knew I had to pick a different major or figure something else out.”
She continued at St. Cloud State for her sophomore year, though, and studied in Europe. When she returned home, Rudy asked, “Now you going to get serious about college aren’t you?” Susan transferred to Augustana College in Sioux Falls to enter the nursing program. During that time, she and Mark Leddy became engaged. They together determined it was financially beneficial for her to transfer to SDSU where Mark was a student.
The two graduated in 1987 and relocated to Minneapolis. Susan started her first job as a healthcare professional at an orthopedic office. Soon after, the couple decided to move to Connecticut and Susan took a job with the University of Connecticut, which had a teaching hospital.
In 1990, Mark was offered a position at Valley Queen Cheese and the couple moved back to Milbank. Susan worked at St. Bernard’s Hospital. She also returned to SDSU to obtain her Masters degree in Nursing. “I had small children and I wanted a regular schedule as a mom.”
Twenty-one years ago, Susan was sent to Wilmot to set up a satellite clinic. She is still there today. “I planned to get the program up and running and be there for a year or two, but I fell in love with it and stayed.”
Susan has always worked throughout her career and is very grateful for those experiences. She said, “My children thank me for that. They feel it made them more independent and responsible. So, I never regretted it.”
Kate said, “Growing up, my mom always said one of us would end up in the healthcare field. All three of us said no we wouldn’t, but here I am.”
During Kate’s high school years, she was sure she would pursue a degree in business after she spent time working for Valley Queen in the Human Resources department. “All of a sudden she changed her tune and decided nursing was what she needed to do,” said Susan.
Kate took the advice of her mom and tested the waters by becoming a certified CNA and, following in her mom’s footsteps, worked at Golden Living Center. She liked the job and proved to herself that nursing was her calling.
During Kate’s senior year of high school, she went on a medical mission trip with her mom to Nicaragua. “That trip and watching my mom in action is what inspired me the most,” she said. “I want to make a difference too.”
Susan laughed about the language she and Kate share unlike her other children. Susan said, “She will call me and be so excited about something she learned and it turns into a 30-minute conversation. We discuss in detail what she is experiencing and learning in class. It’s a lot of fun. She even started drinking coffee. I told her when she was young that every good nurse drinks coffee.”
Kate hopes to begin her career as a traveling nurse, but aspires to work as a nurse midwife. For now, she is exposing herself to a variety of disciplines. She volunteers one day a week at the Minnesota Children’s Hospital on the pediatric floor and also volunteers at the pregnancy crisis center in Minneapolis. Kate knows making the choice to become a nurse often means choosing long hours and hard work. She has also learned it can be physically demanding and emotionally draining.
Although working as a nurse can be a difficult job, having someone you can talk to about its ups and downs can really help. When that person is your mother, it can make a world of difference. When that person is your daughter, you know you are making a difference in the world.