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SwedishAmerican nurse named emerging leader in Illinois healthcare

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — The non-stop movement of a hospital floor. Surgeons in an operating room, doctors delivering a diagnosis and nurses providing bedside manner to patients.

These are some common thoughts when life working at a hospital comes to mind.

However, that far from covers every aspect of the healthcare machine.

There are many people that are behind the scenes working to keep a hospital moving and improving.

Terese Knake is one of those people.

As a clinical quality specialist for SwedishAmerican, Knake reviews data and metrics related to patient outcomes.

Here's what that means in layman's terms:

"What we're looking for is to review the data and our patient care SwedishAmerican provides across the health system and ensure we are meeting benchmarks and providing the highest quality care," Knake said. "I think what I like about it is that I'm able to help at a larger level. More of a systems level to ensure great care across the board."

Tapping on a keyboard and scrolling through data is certainly a different job that looking a patient in the eye in a hospital bed.

For Knake though, she knows the numbers she looks at everyday are far from just that.

"They're not just numbers. They're actually people. Families. Lives that are being effected and what this data represents," Knake said.

Knake brings a level of compassion and care to her job, which helps lift up her co-workers as well.

"She's a great nurse, she's a great mother and just a great friend all around," SwedishAmerican director of quality, safety and accreditation Becky Hopper said.

"She's really one of the highest role models for our organization for our community and really for the profession of nursing."

This recognition for Knake's hard work isn't exclusive to her teammates at SwedishAmerican.

She is also being honored by the Illinois Nurses Foundation as one of the top 40 under 40 (years old) emerging nursing leaders.

It's a humbling experience as well as validating.

Knake left her first career to pursue a career and nursing and this honor shows her she made the right choice.

"I started out with the railroad and worked my way up into management," Knake said.

"It always felt like something was missing. I needed something more. More compassion. I felt like I wasn't really fulfilling my purpose working there."

Just a few years after leaving her job, Knake has her nursing degree, a stable job and the recognition as an emerging leader in her new field.

Knake is being recognized not only for her primary role as a quality specialist, but also her work as a mentor for younger healthcare workers and students including her younger sister.

It's become a priority for her to help others find their way as they start their career.

"There's a lot of people I think that are just like I was. In a career that you just feel like something is missing and you're not fulfilled," Knake.

"How many people can I help in a short amount of time."

A first year college graduate starting her second career.

No part of Knake's journey has been straight forward.

Most importantly, she likes it that way.

Knake sees her journey paving a path down the road less traveled by so others can follow behind her and find the same happiness she did.

"I hope that me striving to break down those barriers is going to help others coming up behind me," Knake said.

If you know of anyone standing out in a positive way in our community, you can fill out a nomination form here or you can reach out to

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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