Sharing Her Knowledge
Forty-two years into her nursing career, Saint Joseph Hospital PICC nurse Rhonda Knapp knows the secret to a long career: Make every encounter with a patient personal.
“I try to learn everything about a patient to make it personal,” Rhonda said. “I ask them about their families, their kids, their pets, to try to get their mind off it because they’re scared. You’ve got to be interested in their history. That’s the key to care.”
Rhonda said the biggest lesson she learned in her career is the power of kindness, and to always treat patients the way she wants her family to be treated.
The lessons learned come from more than four decades of experience. Arriving at Saint Joseph Hospital in 1978 with six other nurses from her nursing program in Elizabethtown, Rhonda began working as a bedside nurse in the maternity ward. She bounced to orthopedics as a staff nurse until she became a PICC nurse in 2013.
“We were all single girls, and I wasn’t even 21 yet [when she came to Lexington],” Rhonda said. “Miss Naomi Leech hired every one of us. One other nurse and I are still working here.”
Timid of doctors and being on her own in a big city, Rhonda said she grew confidence in herself as a nurse and has always tried to share what she’s learned with younger nurses over the years.
In a unique position as a PICC nurse, Rhonda said she moved into the position because of her knack for needles.
“I was the go-to person to start an IV,” Rhonda said. “I’d even have people from other floors come ask me. The challenge is if someone is on blood thinners when putting in a PICC.”
Rhonda said the decision to become a nurse was a calling from the Lord, encouraged by her mother and made possible with the help of a retired nurse, the wife of her college’s president whom she worked for.