Ashley Scherer of Banner Fort Collins Medical Center has been helping patients as a leading nurse in northern Colorado since 2016, and if it’s one thing she knows, it’s good health advice.
“My best advice is that people are making sure they’re going to get checked, especially since we saw a lot of patients push off routine visits or minor problems, so just make sure that as we’re coming out of the pandemic that people are following up with their general doctors and getting checked out for everything that maybe has been put off for the last couple of years,” Scherer said.
In addition to being a leading nurse with Banner, Scherer also works with the operating room teams. She studied at the Salisbury University in Maryland before moving to northern Colorado, a decision she said was largely based on the fact that her parents relocated there.
“When I graduated college I went into nursing in the operating room, directly out of nursing school,” Scherer said. “I did that for a couple of years before I moved to Colorado and then I took a job with Banner in the operating room, as well. Then I became a charge nurse at Banner Fort Collins Medical Center in the operating room and then I decided to look into leadership, so I became a manager and now I’m an associate director over all perioperative.”
She now happily resides in Windsor with her husband and two sons Zach and Luke, which she said perfectly aligns with her love of smaller-town communities.
“I love the small-town kind of atmosphere and events that Windsor and Fort Collins do, whether it’s from craft shows to Santa comes on a train through Windsor, they do Easter egg hunts,” Sherer said. “Something that really tied me to this area is that I have two little boys, so I love being able to do stuff with them out in the community as opposed to being in a huge suburban city that you don’t feel as close with your neighbors.”
Scherer wears many different hats at Banner, from being in the operating room to perioperative teaching to general perioperative and post-recovery, but despite the many responsibilities, according to Scherer, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“With being in leadership I really like how many different aspects I connect with and I like that the patients aren’t just my only customer, I also have surgeons, I have sales reps, I have my staff and I really like being able to jigsaw pieces in to make sure that it works everyone and that everyone leaves happy, whether that’s with the patient making sure they have great outcomes and whatever is wrong with them is fixed,” Scherer said. “I really like that I get to kind of be over all of the nurses throughout the continuum of our patients. So, from the first contact of when surgery is decided it’s needed and help connect all of those pieces to make sure that the patients have a good experience and that all of the departments can work together, and that it’s a cohesive flow.”
For many of the same reasons she appreciates the town of Windsor, Scherer said she’s appreciated being with a smaller community hospital such as Banner because of the more intimate setting it often provides as well as the opportunity it affords to get to know colleagues better and work as a tighter unit.
“The time with Banner has been great, I have worked for Banner Fort Collins Medical Center my entire time and then I’ve done some leadership over at McKee and I really love the small community and family feeling that Banner has, being a smaller community hospital, the units are a little bit smaller, and because of that I think everybody works amazingly well together,” Scherer said. “I think that everyone is willing to help out and just being able to get to know different units and different leaders that have helped me along the way of being a new leader and being over so many different areas and so many different nurses, so working with Banner has been really awesome.”
Scherer said that while the job certainly comes with no shortage of challenges. One of the more notable challenges she’s had to face as a leader is the transition from a peer to the boss level and learning how to adapt to that new role while still maintaining daily expectations.
“Redefining my relationships with people that were my peers into overseeing that the works getting done and ensuring that we’re following everything that we need to and that we’re doing the best for our patience and the hospital and our team members, so that was definitely the hardest thing I’ve done in leadership is navigating that,” Scherer said.
As you might imagine, with overseeing so many different duties, a schedule like Scherer’s changes from day to day. With all the moving pieces she must keep track of, Scherer said it keeps her pretty busy but that’s a pace she works well with.
“I spend time in each of my units,” Scherer said. “I do some staffing, whether that’s lunches or breaks or take some preops or PACU patients, plus I go into the OR. I help coordinate names for upcoming cases, so making sure we have implants and sales reps, and vendors coming for cases that are coming up in the next week. I work on schedules and the call schedule for our emergency cases and coordinating needs with physicians.”
One of those many duties Scherer must stay on top of is providing staff surveys every year as a way of checking in and seeing what hospital staff might want to see differently or what aspects they’re really enjoying. Scherer said that roughly three months ago they did one of their annual surveys and from that, it was concluded that the hospital would like to be more involved within the community. Scherer said that while she loved the idea, it was yet another new aspect of her job to tackle as it presented new challenges she had to learn how to navigate through.
“We’re doing a kindness project, so every month we’re doing one act of kindness for the community in Fort Collins,” Scherer said. “Trying to figure out that piece has been challenging just with being new and trying to figure out where we can donate, who we can donate to, how do we get involved or get funds for these things, that’s been something new for me that I haven’t done in leadership.”
Despite the many challenges and the busy, ever-changing schedule, Scherer said she knows she’s found her calling in life. Some people spend their entire lives trying to find what makes them happy, but Scherer, she’s known the answer to that question from the time she was still very young, and it’s never changed and according to Scherer, it never will.
“With nursing, I’ve always wanted to do medical ever since I was little, as far back as I can remember,” Scherer said. “I wanted to be a doctor for a while in elementary school but then as I got older I kind of learned the different aspects of what doctors do versus what nurses do and I really like that patient connection and I felt like nurses were able to spend a little more time with their patients and I knew I wanted to specialize in an area of nursing but I wasn’t exactly sure when and honestly I took a job interview with the operating room back in Maryland and I thought it was great interview practice and I ended up getting the job and decided I’d try it out. Ever since I started the operating room, I’ve loved it and I don’t want to do anything else.”