Lakeland University Blog

2010 grad takes her patients’ care to heart

2010 grad takes her patients’ care to heart


2010 grad takes her patients’ care to heart

For most parents, having a child born with a bicuspid heart valve would be an overwhelming experience leaving them with more questions than answers.

When the Hornes family has doctor appointments for their oldest daughter to monitor treatment for her bicuspid valve, 2010 Lakeland graduate Kim (Linger) Hornes knows exactly what to ask.

Hornes has spent the last five years as a cardiology nurse practitioner with SSM Health’s Fond du Lac Regional Clinic, a career that traces its roots back to her science classes at Lakeland and a passion for helping people.

A native of tiny Eldorado, Wis., Hornes came to Lakeland with experience as a certified nursing assistant. Her passion for people was further fueled at Lakeland as a biology major and classes that dealt with human anatomy.

“(Professor) Kathy Marr’s anatomy and physiology class - that told me you should do something in the healthcare field,” Hornes said. “It wasn’t easy. I struggled through some of the environmental classes. Poor (Professor) Paul Pickhardt … I never had a desire to travel to Belize and tough it out and study bugs.”

Following graduation from Lakeland, Hornes got a job in registration and admitting with SSM Health in Fond du Lac, which opened the door to her nursing career. She became a registered nurse and graduated with an associate degree in 2014 from Moraine Park Technical College, then both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from Marian University.

After initially working in gastroenterology, she went on to a cardiac inpatient unit, and eventually outpatient cardiac rehabilitation and stress testing before finding a home in the cardiology clinic upon graduating as a nurse practitioner.

“I always thought cardiology was the most intimidating field,” said Hornes, who lives in Oshkosh with her husband, 2010 Lakeland graduate Blaine Hornes, and their four children, ages 8 to three months. “It’s become my comfort zone and I’ve never looked back. It’s one of neatest and most innovative fields.”

Her passion is her patients, getting to know them and understanding what makes them tick.

She sees cardiac patients in clinic for follow ups to heart attacks, stent placements, bypass surgery and other procedures. Her emphasis is structural disease including valve disease/replacement, stent placement and arrhythmia patients, prescribing or changing their medications and examining their risk factors.

“I love patient contact,” Hornes said. “Getting to know people was the biggest reason I got into this. I had to know that why, what is going on with this patient and do that digging and ordering those tests. It can be so rewarding in the long run.”

In addition to her work at the clinic, Hornes also does community presentations and has done voice overs for slide show presentations as part of SSM Health’s community outreach.

Hornes has fond memories of her time at Lakeland and the friendships that have endured. She was a standout volleyball player, earning first team all-conference honors twice, a spot among the program’s career leaders in several hitting categories and helping lead the program to three conference championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances.

“Playing volleyball was one of the best times of my life. We still have our core group that tries to get together but we have all these kids,” she said with a chuckle.

Hornes is confident that she wouldn’t have predicted her current occupation when she was at Lakeland, but she’s thankful for the opportunities that helped her find her path.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to be for so long,” Hornes said. “Once you get to experience it firsthand, you get an idea of whether you like it or not. Nursing has so many different possibilities. Cardiology is always changing and evolving with new studies and recommendations.”

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