Nursing alumni impact region

Two graduates of Iowa Wesleyan University’s nursing program are making a positive impact on women’s health services provided at Henry County Health Center (HCHC) in Mount Pleasant. Kari Payne ’03 and Kendra Bonnesen ’08 collaborated to bring certified nurse-midwifery services to the health center — an endeavor that is experiencing great success with patients and staff alike.

Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) focus on partnering with women to provide unique, individualized care throughout all ages and stages of life, from puberty through the elder years. Most believe it only applies to the birthing process, which is a misnomer. CNMs focus on the life of a woman.

Kari Payne, licensed in Iowa as a certified nurse-midwife at Henry County Health Center, earned her LPN as well as her Associate’s Degree in the Arts from Southeastern Community College.

Payne was attending classes at IW during the morning and working full time at HCHC on the night shift. She feels fortunate that her IW instructors had the experience and deeper knowledge to give her what she needed most to succeed. She remembers how grateful she was to one particular instructor, Stew Pearcy, who worked with her to make sure she was exposed to specific experiences in her career. The flexibility to do clinical studies in the NICU, while eliminating a traditional rotation, for instance, was critical to preparing Kari for nurse-midwifery as an RN.

It was while they were both working at HCHC that Kari’s path intersected with Kendra Bonnesen’s. When the two women met, Kendra, who is currently a Family Nurse Practitioner, Certified Nurse Midwife and an Advanced Nurse Lactation Consultant at HCHC, was working to solidify her field of specialty as well.

Bonnesen, whose parents, James ’71 and Patricia Walker Allen ’72, are Iowa Wesleyan alums, credits her combined experiences at Iowa Wesleyan and on the job for her choice to get into nurse-midwifery: “I had been exposed to Advanced Practice Nursing during my education at Iowa Wesleyan and really developed a passion for caring for patients, especially in labor, delivery, and pediatrics during my nursing education. With encouragement from IW faculty, I set a goal to become an Advanced Practice Nurse while I was still obtaining my BSN there. I was also influenced by working as an RN in labor, delivery, postpartum, nursery, and pediatrics; where I realized women and children deserve the care they desire. I felt there was room for improvement and another way to approach the care of the patient.”

According to Kari, she and Kendra are both in the same place in life, with common views on the need for holistic women’s care. She is the self-admitted boisterous personality, while Kendra is a calm balance. Once they discovered they were complimentary, a joint business plan came easily to them and they presented it to the HCHC Administration.

Their timing was perfect. Changes in the medical community had created a significant need for women’s health providers. The addition of certified nurse-midwives to the healthcare team ultimately facilitated what has quickly become a thriving nurse-midwifery partnership with Kari Payne and Kendra Bonnesen.

They both take great pride in the fact that their shared passion for nursing has manifested into something so much bigger than anyone could have anticipated. They’re proud to be practicing nurse-midwifery, partnering with Robert Smith, M.D., HCHC Obstetrician/Gynecologist, and collaborating with other members of the medical community to provide important healthcare to area women and newborns.

This partnership is a passionate example of the direction health care is taking throughout the world. Iowa Wesleyan is on the leading edge, preparing students and facilitating their goals with them.