"Shadowing" mom prepares UAH alumna Lindsey Westenhofer for job as USSRC nursing director

UAH alumna Lindsey M. Westenhofer teaches a Medical System Alert Training Class. Westenhofer is Director of Nursing at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Courtesy Photo: UAH alumna Lindsey Westenhofer

Instead of playing with dolls and toys, a young Lindsey Moore Westenhofer (NUR, BSN, ‘03) entertained herself by shadowing her mother, a nursing student.

"My mother began her graduate nursing education when I was a young girl, so I have known since I can remember that I had an insatiable interest in all of the natural sciences but, in particular, anything relating to the human body," said Westenhofer. "I remember begging to listen in on her nursing school conference calls. And, I frequently got into trouble for pulling out her books so I could ‘read’ them."

It is no small wonder that Westenhofer followed in her mother’s footsteps, graduating from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Nursing (CON) and established a career in nursing.

As U.S. Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) Director of Nursing, Westenhofer oversees close to 50 staff members during peak seasons of spring and summer, covering about 1,100 campers per week. "We have two on-campus nursing clinics for the use of our campers, chaperones, museum guests, and our 800 USSRC employees.

"Our nursing department reviews the health history of many of our campers, and coordinates with appropriate health care providers to ensure continuity of care and a safe and healthy camp experience," she added. Westenhofer said health reviews for those trainees also include extensive communication between nursing staff, families, and primary care providers and evaluation of camp activities on a case-by-case basis.

"USSRC nursing staff provides emergent response coverage for the entire (2.5 mile) campus. Our department also manages worker’s compensation claims and on-site drug testing in conjunction with our HR department," Westenhofer added.

In addition, to her many duties as director she is also responsible for educating staff on relevant healthcare topics and managing the instruction of American Heart Association Basic Life Support courses, and USSRC Code MAS (Medical Alert System) courses which Westenhofer designed and implemented.

As a UAH nursing student she completed her preceptorship in pediatrics, which has been the central theme in her nursing career.

"My favorite courses were pediatrics, obstetrics, and population-based nursing — all of which really foretold my future in nursing," said Westenhofer. "I was involved in the UAH CON’s Let’s Pretend Hospital (LPH). In particular, I recall LPH being an introduction into the appropriate bedside manner to use with early school-aged children, and the demeanor to approach them…too not scare them and develop trust. So much of what takes a nurse from good to extraordinary is his/her emotional intelligence, which is the basis of bedside manner," Westenhofer said.

She continues friendships with several UAH CON classmates and all have made great contributions to the field of nursing whether they have established careers in administration, education, or direct patient care.

Westenhofer readily admits healthcare is an ever changing, challenging profession. Her advice for young women and men who may be interested in the field of nursing is to remember, "empathy is everything."

**EDITOR’S NOTE: Westenhofer’s mother, Kandace Kennedy Moore graduated from the UAH School of Nursing in 1977.


Karen Brennan