Nurse Follows Her Calling from the Caribbean to Missouri

MU Health Care nurse Kaleeagh Thomas

MU Health Care nurse Kaleeagh Thomas’ journey to treating patients in the neurosciences intensive care unit began as a child in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. She helped care for her great-grandmother and aunt as they dealt with serious illnesses.

“Helping my great-grandmother and aunt when they were sick made me aware that working in health care was my calling,” she said.

After working as an ICU nurse in her home country for eight years, Thomas wanted to further her career and follow her calling overseas. She signed a contract with a placement agency, hoping to become a nurse in the United States.

She did her research and selected MU Health Care as her top choice.

“I wanted a hospital and a place to live that would be family inclined, good for me, my husband and our son,” she said.

Thomas moved to Columbia in December 2020, and her husband and their 10-year-old son followed her in March. Her husband found work as an electrician and her son quickly adapted to a new environment. Thomas said the family likes the peaceful atmosphere in Columbia and enjoys exploring the area’s many trails.

At MU Health Care’s University Hospital, Thomas cares for people with serious brain and spinal cord conditions. The unit practices nurse-led multidisciplinary rounds with neuro intensivists, physician’s assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, neurosciences pharmacists, registered nurses and respiratory therapists collaborating to provide the best care.

Thomas said her favorite part of the job is interacting with patients.

“Getting to know patients and making them feel comfortable is one of the best parts of this job,” she said. “I've been in situations where I've been uncomfortable, and I can relate to that feeling.”

Thomas said she hopes to continue working for MU Health Care beyond her current two-year commitment. MU Health Care offers employee tuition discounts, and Thomas plans to take advantage of that benefit to further her education and skills so she can become a family nurse practitioner.

Staying in Columbia also would mean making a home in a place the family has come to enjoy.

“What I can say about Missouri is that the people are warm and welcoming,” she said. “I could say that for sure, and I really do appreciate that.”

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