On a ‘Mission’ from Missouri to Macau

Janis Dickerman has used her nursing skills to improve the lives of those less fortunate from Missouri to Macau, with help from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Drury University at Fort Leonard Wood.

Dickerman and her late husband were missionaries in Macau, an automonous region on the south coast of China, for 20 years. While there, they started a medical clinic, then branched out with satellite clinics and home nursing visits. When China opened its borders to foreigners in the late 1970s, Dickerman and her husband traveled north into the massive, mysterious, once-isolated country.

“It was an exciting time,” says Dickerman.

The Chinese people had been subjected to extreme hardships under the rule of Mao Zedong and his Communist Party of China, including the Great Chinese famine, and Dickerman and her husband were eager to help.

“We really wanted to work with the Chinese people,” Dickerman says.

Their missionary work was done through the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board. It was on a one-year furlough from this work that Dickerman decided to go back to school and get her nursing degree. She had gone to nursing school straight out of high school and received her nursing certification, but she wanted to further her career and complete her degree program. Since she and her husband were furloughed in Rolla, Missouri, she weighed her options locally and decided on Drury University’s Fort Leonard Wood campus.

She had her nursing school credits transferred to Drury and completed her degree program by the end of her furlough. She says her year on furlough was the perfect time to go back, and that she picked the perfect program to complete her degree.

“It was an excellent time for me to go back (to school), without all of the distractions that I had at a younger age,” Dickerman says.

She recalls that her class sizes were “fairly small,” and that her classmates varied in age.

“The instructors did an excellent job of engaging their classes,” she says.

When their missionary work in China and Macau was complete, Dickerman and her husband settled back in Rolla. Dickerman was soon hired as a nursing supervisor at Phelps County Medical Center, where she worked for two years, before taking a similar job at St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles, Missouri. She was promoted to director of the skilled nursing program at the hospital, before she was recruited by Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for the same position.

She spent ten years as the director of the highly-rated and highly-respected hospital’s skilled nursing program before retiring. But, after four short months, she grew tired of retirement and went back to work, first as the director of nursing for extended care at Frontier Health & Rehabilitation in St. Charles, and now at Big Bend Woods Healthcare Center in Valley Park, Missouri.

Dickerman continues to do missionary work. In summer 2017, she traveled to Myanmar to work with health care providers and try to bring better healthcare access to the people of the one of the most impoverished nations in the world.

“I love what I do,” says Dickerman. “As long as I enjoy my job and like to do it, I won’t retire any time soon.”