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Nurse Profile

Published August 2022 | In Summer 2022

When Dayna Swanson, RN, took an assignment at Monument Health, she didn’t know how long she would stay. After less than a year in the Black Hills, she started calling Rapid City home.

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Black Hills Enchantment

When Dayna Swanson, RN, took an assignment at Monument Health, she didn’t know how long she would stay. After less than a year in the Black Hills, she started calling Rapid City home.

For those who live here, it’s no secret how wonderful the Black Hills area is — the scenic overlooks, network of trails for exploration, fun events and amenities and, most of all, great people. For those lucky enough to find their way to the Black Hills, many never want to leave.

“This area is just very enticing,” said Dayna Swanson, RN, a Nurse Clinician in the Rapid City Hospital Emergency Department. “The Black Hills really cater to all my needs outside of work — mountain biking, hiking, paddle boarding and rock climbing.”

Originally from Indiana, Dayna always knew she wanted to help others, and nursing seemed like a stable option for a career. While in nursing school at Indiana Wesleyan University she worked as a tech in the Emergency Department, which solidified that the ED was the right place for her.  “I like the busyness, the critical thinking and the level of autonomy. Most of all, I really like being able to help people having some of their worst moments,” she said. “I’m able to stay calm and help patients and their families.”

After nursing school, Dayna worked at a Level II trauma center in Indiana, as well as at a smaller hospital while also working as a PRN at another facility, which means she only worked when they needed her. It made for a busy schedule, but she wanted to get experience and develop her skills in a number of different environments. “I like to keep busy. I’ve learned that about myself.”

Soon Dayna found herself in Arizona working as a travel nurse, which fit her lifestyle in many ways. But she wasn’t ready to quit traveling yet, which brought her to the Black Hills and Monument Health in May 2019. Her experience here would prove very positive, so positive in fact, that she took a permanent position in January 2020. “As a traveler, the hospital was just a great facility to work in, and I liked how easy it was to see the different levels of the organization and how things are run,” said Dayna. “I’ve worked in five hospitals now, and the way Monument Health does things is really great in my experience. The policies and procedures, our workflow, teamwork and everyone I work with — from fellow nurses to physicians — all came into play with my decision to stay.”

Finding herself in the Black Hills didn’t hurt either, and like many others who love it here, Dayna appreciates the ability to hit the trail and not see another person for hours. She also appreciates the people that she sees almost every day. “The people here were a big factor in my decision to stay,” she said before adding, “Monument Health really is a great place to work, and I’m pretty happy to be here.”

What is a travel nurse?

A travel nurse, also known as a traveling nurse or a traveler, is a registered nurse that takes temporary assignments in hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities. This can be a good way for new nurses to earn money, explore new places and gain experience in different roles and settings. 

Travel nursing also comes with some downsides: travelers often take on night shifts or higher-risk assignments; many health care organizations require travelers be licensed in their state; the work requires frequent moving and the need to find new housing; it can be a challenge making new friends, avoiding loneliness and dealing with homesickness; travelers typically have subpar benefits; and while gaining experience in a number of settings and specialities is helpful, it can make it hard to advance professionally in the long run. 

In short, travel nursing can be a good opportunity for some nurses, but for those that want to build permanent careers, raise a family or just put down roots, it’s probably not a great option. Monument Health has permanently hired travel nurses like Dayna who fall in love with the area, connect with the people they work with and discover that they like the organization and its work culture. For more information on nursing at Monument Health, go to

At Monument Health, we recognize that our nurses devote their time and energy to the health and Well-being of our patients and our communities. Our nurses provide care in critical access hospitals, community hospitals, a behavioral health hospital, long term care environments, clinics and hospital outpatient services. Because they’re an indispensable part of how we provide care, we are always investing in our nurses. We have a nurse residency program for newly graduated nurses, scholarship programs and tuition reimbursement. Additionally, we have a number of programs to encourage professional development, like our BSN completion program, continuing education days and our compensated nursing professional development ladder. One of Monument Health’s priorities is to be here for generations to come, and we want all of our nurses to grow with us.

Nicole Kerkenbush, MHA, MN, BSN

Chief Nursing and Performance Officer

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