Jody Kurtt receives DAISY Lifetime Achievement Award
Kurtt describes her take on hope and how little steps make a difference ahead of her retirement.
Colleagues describe Jody Kurtt as a “visionary leader” who “passionately advocated for, developed, and advanced nursing care standards that specifically address the unique needs of women and children.”
Those kind words come from those who nominated her for the DAISY Lifetime Achievement Award, a recognition created to honor nurses who have devoted their life's work to the compassionate care of others.
Only a handful of nurses within UI Health Care have received this award.
“I was so incredibly humbled and grateful for the award,” says Kurtt, who retired in September. “My career has really been a reflection of the incredible people I’ve worked alongside.”
The ‘why’ of what we do
Kurtt spent 32 years with UI Health Care as the director of nursing and patient care services. She took the job in 1990, due in part to our reputation for high-quality care as the only academic medical center in Iowa. Not only does she find pride in the evidence-based practices that the system has become known for, but she loves how engaging it can be.
“I love the insight into the why of things. The research, the clinical work, the education, it all makes work so stimulating,” Kurtt says.
In nominating her for the lifetime achievement award, colleagues say she, “developed and fostered a divisional culture that supports and encourages new and seasoned nurse leaders to learn, grow, and achieve excellence.”
Humbled by those words, Kurtt remembers why it’s important to have strong leaders: to better serve patients.
"Patients are the ‘why’ of what we do here. And our team makes a difference in the health and well-being for children, women, and their families,” Kurtt says. “Being able to make that difference is what's kept me here.”
Kurtt’s take on success involves a four-letter word she feels the world needs more of, and that’s hope.
“I think being hopeful is really critical for leaders today and for them to know that we can accomplish our vision. Excellence might not happen overnight, but it’s important to not lose focus on where we want to be,” she says.
Kurtt credits many of UI Health Care’s nursing leaders—including Sally Mathis Hartwig who served as director of nursing early in Kurtt’s career—as mentors who left a lasting impact on her career.
As for current leadership, Kurtt is confident UI Health Care has extraordinary leaders to guide the organization moving forward.
“I appreciate that Kim Hunter has such a hopeful vision for where we can go as an organization,” Kurtt says. “What I really appreciate about her is her optimism, her professionalism, and her calm yet very focused leadership.”
Kurtt says she’s no stranger to positivity herself.
“I think a lot of people would say, ‘Oh, Jody always thinks it can be done.’ And I do,” she says. “Even if it takes time, I think we can continue to strive for excellence. And little steps every day can make a big difference.”