Impacting Care Beyond Our Walls

Volunteering and advocacy work are more than just hobbies to UW Health RN Care Coordinator Jill Kietzke, MSN, RN, BC-ADM, they’re part of who she is. Jill learned the importance of service early in life by watching her parents, both of whom regularly volunteered at their church, with emergency medical services (EMS) and their local chapter of the Lions Club. But it wasn’t until her father passed away in 2017—just a couple months prior to Jill receiving her master’s degree in nursing—that she discovered how much her parents’ legacy would influence her professional and personal life.

“I absolutely underestimated the power of volunteerism until my dad was gone,” says Jill. “I know now that community service and advocacy on behalf of causes I care deeply about is the best way I can honor him and who he was.”

For Jill, that meant not only joining the local chapter of the Lions Club but also volunteering with the American Diabetes Association (ADA), where her passion and expertise about diabetes were quickly recognized as assets to the organization. It wasn’t long before she went from discussing diabetes research, prevention and prescription drug costs with members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, to joining 200 other diabetes advocates on Capitol Hill to spread the word about ADA programs on a national stage.

Jill says that experience, which included meeting the CEO of the American Diabetes Association and listening to a powerful speech by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, solidified her passion to continue the work.

“It was exciting to feel like the work I was doing had the potential to make a difference in the world,” she says.

Since then, Jill has become an “ADA influencer,” routinely engaging in rapid-response communication to legislators about urgent topics impacting people with diabetes and their care. As a result, she was chosen in March 2021 to represent Wisconsinites in a roundtable discussion about medication costs with Governor Tony Evers.  

In addition to her advocacy efforts, Jill also mentors youth with Type 1 diabetes at the Wisconsin Lions Camp every year. As part of the medical staff, she helps to manage Type 1 diabetes in kids while they participate in typical summer camp activities. She says the mentoring that she and others provide at camp can be life changing for these kids because they learn not only from their mentors, but also from other kids their own age who are struggling with the same challenges. She adds that the week she spends volunteering at camp has been life changing for her, too, and that her experience continues to help inform and define her role at UW Health.  

“I feel that volunteering and advocacy on topics that impact my patients’ lives just make me a better nurse,” says Jill. “Going the extra mile really exemplifies what being a UW Health nurse is all about, and I like encouraging all my colleagues to engage in issues they’re passionate about because doing so creates a ripple effect on the care they provide at UW Health.”

Ultimately, being highly skilled and passionate about caring for and serving others goes far beyond the rewards of a job well done—for Jill, it’s personal. “I know that my dad sees all the work I’m doing for others and that he’s cheering me on,” she says. “Just knowing that makes it so much more powerful to me.”

Check out more stories featuring the great work of our nurses in the 2021 Nursing Annual Report (pdf).