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College of Nursing

Neighborhood Nurses - Kayla Rothe

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Bad Axe is a town built on families. From the home furnishings shop to the bakery, popular dive bar, clothier and car dealers, visitors will find a lot of long, storied names on the storefronts downtown.


Family is what brought Bad Axe native Kayla Rothe, BSN ’17, back to this tiny town of some 2,900 people, located, as some locals like to say, “on the tip of Michigan’s thumb.” With her fiancé and two dogs, Rothe knew this is the place she needed to be to start her nursing career following her graduation from the Michigan State University College of Nursing.


Rothe’s journey into nursing began in high school when she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which is a rare autoimmune disorder where one’s immune system attacks your nerves. If untreated, it can evolve from weakness, numbness and tingling into paralysis. Thankfully, after treatment and time, Rothe’s prognosis improved.


“It changed my outlook on life at a young age,” Rothe said. “I had amazing nurses when I was at my most vulnerable. I wanted to try to make a difference in peoples’ lives as they did for me and my family.”


Coming to MSU was a natural fit for Rothe.


“After my first visit to campus, I knew I wanted to pursue my degree at MSU. It immediately felt like home to me,” said Rothe, who was also accepted into the college’s Nurse Scholar program for high-achievers. “I’m forever grateful for the friendships and connections I made at MSU. One of my favorite things about the college is the supportive faculty. They genuinely want their students to succeed.”


Rothe remembers being a timid new nursing student, but that support and encouragement from instructors — especially as she started her clinical rotations — made all the difference in the world. Now, she primarily works as a bedside registered nurse in the inpatient/surgical unit for McLaren Health and is pursuing her nurse practitioner MSN at another university.


Nurses like Rothe are needed in rural areas. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is almost a 60 percent deficit in the amount of primary care health professionals needed in the state. A similar deficit exists in rural areas across the country.


For now, Rothe is doing her part to plug that hole, and just as well: There is nowhere else she’d rather be and nothing else she's rather be doing.


"I wanted to work in healthcare for as long as I can remember," Rothe said.