By Mike McKibbin
SUMMIT COUNTY — When someone is seriously injured and brought to the emergency room at the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, ER nurse Tim Putz is often one of the first to offer care.
Along with the center’s emergency room doctors and other staff, Putz sometimes provides help in life-or-death situations. He is able to do this thanks in large part to the skills and knowledge he obtained at Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge.
In addition to educating nurses, CMC also trains EMTs, law enforcement officers and firefighters who serve communities throughout the college’s nine-county service area.
Putz, 48, earned his associate degree in nursing and was one of the college’s first graduates to earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2016.
His first nursing job was in a Denver hospital, where he worked for about two years before joining St. Anthony’s in his hometown.
Centura Health’s St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco is a Level III trauma center that includes the Flight For Life® Colorado emergency helicopter service.
“CMC gave me a good grasp of what it means to be a nurse, but there’s not much that can truly prepare you for the weight and responsibility you have on your shoulders in the ER,” Putz said. “That’s the whole ballgame, how you provide the right care and when.”
That’s especially the case in critical, life-and-death situations.
“Other than going through those situations, I don’t know of any other way to prepare yourself,” he said. “You just get better with time.”
Betty Bembenek, interim dean of the college’s School of Nursing, Health Sciences and Public Safety, noted male nurses are still a minority in the profession. Jill Boyle, former director of emergency services at St. Anthony’s in Frisco and now a CMC Breckenridge nursing faculty member, said that compared to other specialty care areas, critical or emergency care seems to attract more male nurses.
Nurses serve high country
Bembenek said nearly 100 percent of the college’s nursing graduates are immediately hired after obtaining their professional nurse’s license, and the majority get their first jobs at medical facilities in the mountain communities CMC serves.
“They’re here because they want to be here and they know how to live in the mountains. They are committed to being part of our local communities compared to someone from another state,” she said.
Having graduates land local jobs also helps to create a stable local workforce in the health care field, which is essential for the health of our local community residents, she said.
Boyle supervised Putz at the hospital and called him a “very strong nurse.”
“I would trust him with the care of my loved ones,” she said. “He’s a confident, caring nurse.”Putz said he grew interested in becoming a nurse — at the age of 39 — after taking CMC classes in first aid and outdoor emergency care. That led to emergency medical technician classes and becoming a certified EMT.
“I’m very thankful for all the opportunities I had through CMC and to get me to where I am today,” he said. “I’m really grateful to be able to go to and graduate from college just nine miles away from my home in Frisco, and to continue to work in the community where I live. The timing just couldn’t be better.”