Questioning certain decisions made by the Wyoming State Board of Nursing led Jennifer Zettl to apply for an open position on the board in 2007.

The board said nurses in the state could no longer pull chest tubes out of patients because it was not in their scope of practice. Zettl, a registered nurse, had been pulling out chest tubes for years.

"One day I was doing it and doing a good job at it," Zettl said. "Then, the next day I couldn't. I didn't understand why."

After being appointed by the governor, she found the answer to her question. A nurse in rural Newcastle may not have the same experience with chest tubes as a nurse working in Casper, and the board had to determine what was best for Wyoming all patients.

Two years later, that same spirit of questioning everything is one of the reasons Zettl was elected board president earlier this month.

"She's young, she has a lot of vitality and she asks really good questions," said Mary Kay Goetter, executive director of the board. "She doesn't just accept things at face value."

Goetter said in her first week as president, Zettl asked many important questions about possible legislation on midwives instead of making an "off-hand, quick opinion" about the issue.

Zettl is the only practicing nurse on the seven-member board, Goetter said.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in nursing from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., Zettl worked in the intensive care unit at Wyoming Medical Center. Sixteen years later, she is charge nurse of the unit.

"I am really attracted to taking care of the sickest patients we have," Zettl said, "who require the most advanced technologies."

She also enjoys helping patients and their families through difficult times.

"I tend to thrive in high-stress environments," Zettl said. "I do well when my hair is on fire."

Besides finding out she was elected president in January, Zettl also returned to work for the first time after delivering her fifth child three months ago.

During her year-long term, Zettl plans to address regulation of advanced practice nurses in the state and school nurses. She also wants to create an advisory panel of advanced practice nurses.

"Rural areas especially, like Saratoga or other little towns, are going to need providers," Zettl said. "There is a need that can be met by advanced practice nurses."