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A Call to Nursing

Sara Strauel in front of sign

Sara Strauel poses by the SAU Health Sciences building

May 2017

When Sara Strauel walked across the stage May 13 and received her St. Ambrose Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, she was answering a call she first heard at the age of 9, when she became a caretaker for her late mother, Shirley, who had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

"We had a home-nurse come help with her care," Sara said. "She was a single parent, so I helped when the nurse wasn't there. I think seeing how the nurses cared for her, and teaching me some of that care, got me hooked on nursing. When she passed away, I moved in with my aunt who was a nurse. Seeing her function in a family role, and having a nurse in the family solidified my decision to pursue nursing."

Her first-hand experience helped prepare her for the work she did at St. Ambrose. Yet, Sara understands she will be learning for life and views the profession as more than a job.

"Nursing involves people's lives, so there's always that high stake," she said. "I think that is the most challenging part. Medicine is so focused on saving lives and providing cures that sometimes it's hard to recognize when there might not be a fast fix, and instead there is a need to focus on the person's quality of life."

Nursing fits Sara's passion for working with people.

"The most rewarding part is the appreciation from our patients," she said. "I get a lot of gratification from hearing how much they thank us and have enjoyed their stay with us, and how much we touch their lives," Sara said.

"We become a part of their lives even though it may only be for a short time. We learn so much about them and build a relationship," she added.

In July, Sara will begin working in the respiratory and critical care unit at University of Iowa Hospitals. She will provide palliative care, a specialized area focusing on easing the pain of serious illness. Sara is looking forward to her new position, and believes it was more than the time she spent in SAU classrooms and clinical settings that prepared her.

"Nursing is very fast-paced, and St. Ambrose has allowed me to be a part of multiple different things on campus." Sara said. "I was on the track team for three years, and I've been involved in events throughout the year. I like to live a very fast-paced life, but the nursing program has still been very rigorous. I think they've prepared me for the logistics of what nursing involves."

Sara said the three years she spent as a high jumper and a hurdler on the SAU track team made a big impact on her life.

"The coaches are great about pushing us to achieve our dreams, and not just in track. They valued our education that we were chasing and worked with us," Sara said. "Even though I didn't compete this year, they still care about what my future looks like and their doors have always been open for me. I've always come to them with issues, and not just track related."

Many others within the St. Ambrose community provided similar support.

"You can find mentors very easily here," she noted. "There are a number of professors whose doors are always open. For me, having a support system has always been a must, because I lost my mom and my dad has not been in the picture. Leaning on someone for support while I'm not at home with my aunt has been very important to me."

At SAU, Sara was respected as a whole person by her track coaches and professors.

"I think they're very good at recognizing that we are people, and not just looking at the one aspect of our lives that they coach or teach."

MORE LIKE THIS:AmbroseZine, College of Health and Human Services, Nursing

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