Dr. Nicole Yoder listens to patients and their families, sometimes needing to address the “elephant in the room” in critical situations. Chairman of the Critical Care Division and an ICU doctor, Dr. Yoder’s support allows them to come to terms with their reality most effectively. She tells her patients and families that the news may be hard to hear, but she will be there and they will work through it together. Nicki Yoder doesn't know how to be any other way.
Dr. Yoder’s job is to treat the sickest of the sick. She has to think fast on her feet. Although she describes herself as blunt and honest, she demonstrates exceptional compassion while addressing a dire prognosis. Focused on the emotional journey of patient care, she is a trusted guide through the dark fog of frightening news.
When COVID hit, there was no guidebook to follow, and the medical professionals knew very little about this new virus. They were flying blind. Dr. Yoder says she is grateful to have been at St. Luke’s during this time. Under the roughest of circumstances, Dr. Yoder speaks highly of her coworkers. She emphasized that “critical care is a team sport. Each member has a specific niche. I could not be prouder of my team and how they handled the pandemic. St. Luke’s is a phenomenal place to work.”
Dr. Yoder is also a mother of two young children. Balancing family life with a demanding career is always a challenge for working mothers, but her husband actively helps with the responsibilities, making it possible for her to do it all. She feels it is important for her children to see her work hard, take her job seriously and demonstrate a passion for her purpose. “You can have it all, but you have to understand that everyone can’t have 100% of you all of the time. We, as women, tend to beat ourselves up because we miss things like basketball games and family dinners. But being a good role model for our children is the most important aspect that will shape their future.” Dr. Yoder would know. Her mother was an ICU nurse who worked nights, and as a child, she felt like her mom could do everything.
Her number one job as a mother, Dr. Yoder believes, is to teach her daughter to help other women, and to be kind. “Strong women empower and strengthen other women,” she says. Always one to practice what she preaches, Dr. Yoder has a strong network of supportive women, some of which she has been friends with for over 40 years. She considers this group her lifeboat when challenges arise.
Although Dr. Yoder wears many professional hats and titles, she is most proud of becoming the Chairman of the Critical Care Division for the entire St. Luke’s Network in September 2020. “I know my worst day in the ICU is better than the day that my patient lying in the bed is having. If I can go home at night to my own bed and know I have done the best that I could do for them with the knowledge I have at that time, I can sleep soundly.”