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Nurturing healthy babies brings her immense joy

Smiling woman with long highlighted hair, wearing a blue print blouse and dark-rimmed glasses, on white banner with-Kelli Hulsman, Lactation Consultant, RN, Women’s Resource Center, William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, and blue Employee Recognition Program logo.

On Kelli Hulsman’s initial shift as a Lactation Consultant at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, one of her first patients expressed gratitude with a big hug and a tearful thank you.

“She was crying, I was crying,” Ms. Hulsman says. “It was a very special moment, one of those affirmations that this is where I’m supposed to be.”

Ms. Hulsman’s 35-year nursing career at UT Southwestern has been sprinkled with such moments. They began with her first assignment after nursing school in working with renal patients in the Medical Surgery Unit of the former St. Paul University Hospital and went on throughout her time as a nurse educator.

Now assigned to Clements University Hospital, she continues to receive those affirmations through interactions with her “work family,” some of whom she’s shared shifts and experiences with for decades. She feels them when, as happened again recently, she sees a former patient who calls her by name and says thank you for her expertise, her kindness, her devotion.

“Even in nursing school, I knew I wanted to work with mothers and babies because it involves a lot of teaching and I knew I could make a difference in people’s lives,” says Ms. Hulsman, who has a master’s degree in nursing education.

A third-generation nurse, a mother of four boys, and a grandmother of three grandsons, Ms. Hulsman exemplifies caring.

She lets her colleagues with children at home choose their shifts first. Every week, she hosts Sunday dinner for whomever in her family can make it. She’s a wonderful cook. Most every ingredient for her mouth-watering meals comes from her shared land in Wills Point.

“I call my gardening playing in the dirt,” she says. “That is my de-stressor, my meditation. A lot of times I'll be sitting there weeding and praying. Some people do yoga; I do gardening.”

From the land, she garners strength; from her job, she gains utmost satisfaction.

“The people I work with are really wonderful and kind and caring,” Ms. Hulsman says. “Everyone has a passion for the work we do.”

She pauses for a moment before further reflecting on how the aspects of her life intermingle and fulfill her.

“When I’m starting new plants and seedlings,” she says, “I’m getting them off to a good start, giving them the nourishment they need to grow and do well. That’s kind of how I see helping these new families get started. I’m teaching them. I’m giving them components to take care of their babies, and the confidence to know they’re doing well.”

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