After Susan Kronenberger Clark’s ’95, ’00 husband had a heart attack, she decided it was time to make a career change and knew Shenandoah would give her the opportunity to do so. Clark’s youngest sister, Lynne Kronenberger Laird ’92 had just graduated from Shenandoah with a nursing degree the same year, and she noticed there were students her age in the class, which gave her the hope that it wasn’t too late for her to go back to school to pursue a new career.
“SU provides an outstanding nursing program,” said Clark. “The program has grown from providing the ADN and BSN program to now providing advanced practice programs too.”
Although she wasn’t able to be involved on campus as much as she would have liked since she had her first child five days before starting class and was working part-time, Clark’s fondest memories of Shenandoah are developing close relationships with her classmates and professors.
Clark is a registered nurse (RN) and the clinical nurse manager of the float pool and GetWellNetwork for Winchester Medical Center (WMC) in Winchester, Virginia. As the clinical nurse manager, she manages a team of 165 staff members consisting of RNs, certified nursing assistants (CNA), nursing assistants, safety companions and administrative associates. These staff members float throughout WMC to help fill staffing needs on all units.
Over the years, Clark has had the privilege of growing her career through WMC and has had multiple positions including staff nurse, charge nurse, case manager and clinical educator. In her current position, she has grown the float pool from 72 nurses and CNAs to 165 staff members. Clark has even received various awards for her work at WMC, which include the Excellence in Performance Award in 1999, 2008, 2010 and 2012, and the GetWellNetwork’s Interactive Patient Care Award in 2009. She was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau in 2000 as well.
Clark is also co-owner of Warrior Health and Fitness in Stephens City, Virginia. She started this new venture in her career in the beginning of 2020 with Jacob Makowski, who studied exercise science at Shenandoah.
In the early part of her career, the most rewarding experiences for Clark were when patients and/or their families would come back to visit. “These were critically ill or injured patients admitted to the WMC Neuro Special Care Unit,” said Clark. “Working closely with family members and patients to coordinate their care in difficult situations as a case manager was always rewarding.” She also enjoys bringing on new staff to various nursing positions and helping them to grow and develop in their careers.
The most important thing Shenandoah gave Clark was the opportunity to become a nurse in two years with the Associate of Science degree in nursing and she still uses the knowledge and skills that she gained from her degree to this day.
Clark’s advice to students is: “With the technology of electronic medical records nurses feel they are tied to computers. Don’t let the computer run your shift, always remember you are caring for human beings, not computers. Look at your patients and engage with them at all times. Take the time to listen to them and their families. You can find out so much about their situation if you take the time to listen and be present with them.”