Nursing supervisor motivated by family and time as a patient

Childhood hospitalization and grandmother influence Gretchen Amundson today

Gretchen Amundson’s calling to health care came at a young age.

The nursing supervisor at Sanford Health Veterans Square Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota, knows how to relate to patients because she’s been one.

In high school, Amundson was hospitalized for eight days for an illness she didn’t even know she had.

“I was undiagnosed for three years with what’s called POTS. Especially at that time, people didn’t really know what it was. So, I went undiagnosed for a long time.

“That’s what I was truly hospitalized for. I lost 10 pounds in a week, and things were honestly touch and go for a while,” she said.

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) affects blood flow within the body. Amundson said she’d experience frequent lightheadedness, especially after standing up too fast.

She says after being diagnosed, she’s been able to control POTS and has learned to live with it.

Family affair

Seeing firsthand how hard nurses and caregivers worked for her motivated Amundson to provide that quality care to others.

“I had fantastic nurses. You could tell how much they cared for each and every one of their patients, and I couldn’t be grateful enough to them for the care they provided. It really made me want to care for other people,” she said.

Related: Nurses’ love, compassion at foundation of day-to-day work

Not only did her firsthand experience draw her to her current field of work, but she also had some help from her “Grandma Crusher,” a nurse of over 15 years.

“Grandma and I had really similar personalities. We’re both kind and caring, but we also have a tougher side to us too, which I think is really important in nursing. We used to call her Grandma Crusher, and she loved the nickname.

“Now, my family calls me Gretchen Crusher. Our personalities were so similar, and that was a big part of me becoming a nurse. It takes a certain personality to be a nurse, and that’s been with me the whole time,” added Amundson.

Being a CNA before a nurse

Amundson may have started in her current role in overseeing nurses January, but she knows what it’s like to be on the floor.

Before becoming a nursing supervisor, she herself was a nurse. But, if you ask her what her most valuable position was in her career thus far, she’d say it’s being a certified nursing assistant.

“I think that leads into your nursing career and gives you the base on how to care for a person. You learn so many people skills, and those essential care needs that the patient has. And, you really get to have that connection and learn the relationship aspect of nursing,” she said.

Amundson’s favorite thing about her job? Those relationships with patients.

“That’s my favorite part of nursing.”

Along with daily care and patient-caregiver relationships, Amundson says she truly learned how to time manage as a CNA.

“Time management is key in any kind of health care role. I think being a CNA, you have to learn to prioritize your day. ‘I have this many baths to do. Who comes first?’ That sort of thing,” she said.

‘I’m a very proud Sanford employee’

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed countless responsibilities for employees, including Gretchen’s.

Before the pandemic, she “helped nurses room patients, did shots, coordinate things in the clinic, help providers figure out their schedules, assign nursing schedules, and just kind of roll with the punches.”

Since then, she’s led changes in nursing policies due to COVID-19, helped keep her staff updated, and helped with scheduling and overall team coordination, among many other tasks.

Gretchen says what keeps bringing her back is what brought her to Sanford in the first place: the health care provider’s unmatched commitment to patients.

“We want to deliver a flawless experience that inspires. That really spoke to me, because that’s why I became a nurse. I love how Sanford is always pushing to become better.

“Especially with COVID too, we did all kinds of trials, lots of involvement, sped up testing, and all kinds of things. It really spoke to why I became a nurse.”

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Posted In Coronavirus, Fargo, Health Care Heroes, Nursing and Nursing Support

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