Bellin leader is a proud Bellin College alumna
Before Laura Hieb was the chief nursing officer and senior vice president at Bellin Health, she was a Bellin College of Nursing student from Florence, Wisconsin. Though the path to where she is today was not always the easiest, she has earned the position through hard work and dedication to her craft and through continued learning instilled through her teachings at Bellin College.
Hieb is a mother of three girls and carries the Bellin College mindset that education as a nurse always continues and Bellin College “set me up with that mindset and to always give back.”
Path to Bellin College
When Laura was a sixth-grade student, her father, a Marines veteran, was diagnosed with brain cancer. Her father spent most of his treatment at the Veterans Affairs Hospital but died two years later when Laura was in the eighth grade. He was 39. At the time, Hieb was one of three kids, and only daughter, living on a dairy farm when her father passed. Because of her chores and responsibilities on the farm, Laura was unable to do sports or extracurriculars to help take care of the about 30 head of cows the family had on the farm.
It was because of her father’s illness and what the family went through that she decided to pursue a career in nursing, but that was not without challenges. Given the demands of a dairy farm and being a single mother, Laura’s mom was not able to help with college applications and paperwork, which put the process in jeopardy and Laura nearly didn’t apply to college, until an influential teacher at her high school intervened.
That teacher, Mr. Valine, took Laura out of class one day and sat her down to ask about her plans for college. While Laura’s mom was still struggling with the loss of her husband, Mr. Valine arranged for Laura and her family to receive help tying up loose ends for the application process to Bellin College.
“And he said, ‘You can’t stay back on the farm. You’re going to be somebody someday,’” Laura said.
Bellin College, then Bellin College of Nursing, was the only college she applied to and was accepted after hearing about the institution and its reputation for producing quality nurses.
Hieb still distinctly remembers driving into Green Bay and wondering how she would survive in a big city. She not only survived but thrived at Bellin College. She graduated in 1989 and became the second winner of the Lucyanna Hitch Award that is given to an outstanding graduate each year. After graduation she took a job at Bellin Hospital on the surgical floor and Bellin has been her home since.
After earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Bellin College, she went on to obtain her Master of Business Administration-Health Care with an executive focus from Cardinal Stritch University. She also is certified as a Nurse Executive through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In the past she served on the Alumni Council at Bellin College.
Hieb has been the chief nursing officer with Bellin Health since 2006 and has held numerous roles in the company after beginning her career as a registered nurse with Bellin Health in 1989. Before being CNO she was team leader of Bellin’s Homecare Services from 1998-2006.
Hieb’s rewards throughout her career while working in direct patient care and then in leadership are often different.
“Those rewards when you’re in direct clinical care change as you become an administrator or in leadership,” she said. In direct care “I helped them, and I think they helped me in securing my desire for this profession.”
“The rewards that I feel now are different in that when I see other nursing professionals feel like they can make a difference. Or when you see the passion and excitement over the profession or see a nurse be successful in impacting or influencing someone’s life. That to me is incredible.”
The impact of nurses has again been brought to the forefront of society due to the pandemic.
Hieb can see the current COVID-19 pandemic from the inside and has seen the importance of teamwork.
“What I learned the most is that it really is about how we navigate this together,” she said. “Nurses have resiliency, we have compassion, we have this incredible gift that we bring forward and this is just the perfect time to show that.”
“I’m awestruck over the impact that nurses can make during this time and the sacrifices they make, “ she said. “It’s just incredible to watch the team and I think that’s one of my biggest learnings is that we get through this time together and that teams are essential.”
Looking to the future
Hieb says anyone looking to go into a career in healthcare should “absolutely” do so.
“Healthcare is going through a lot of changes,” Hieb said. “There are so many opportunities to make a difference.”
She predicts the nurses of the future will be the advocates for change in all areas of medicine and will maintain roles on the frontlines and behind the scenes.