Patient gratitude inspires a daughter’s nursing career

Three generations of women in Shauna Paulson's family have served as nurses

A Sanford Health nurse with glasses and a blue face mask sits at her desk.

When you ask Shauna Paulson about her mom, Junieve Lundgren, there’s a familiar childhood scene she’s likely to describe.

“When we would go to the grocery store, ballgame, or just about anywhere, somebody would come up to my mom and comment on the great care she gave them when they had a baby, or how she comforted their family member when they were in the hospital,” Paulson said.

For more than 45 years, Paulson’s mom worked as a nurse in the small town of Roseau, Minnesota.

“I was always very proud of her,” said Paulson. “But her work at the hospital was also just a regular part of our lives.”

The Roseau Area Hospital was, in some ways, like a second home to Paulson. During high school, she started her first job in health care as a supply tech, cleaning hospital rooms, restocking supplies and delivering water to patients.

That’s when she saw firsthand how nurses provide care that can make a lasting difference.

“I just knew that was what I wanted to do too,” she said.

Choosing her own path

Although Paulson followed in both her mother’s — and also her grandmother’s — footsteps, her parents never suggested that she should.

“My dad never went to work without a smile on his face and that was really important to him — that my brother and I choose careers that we could be happy with,” she said. “He always said that if you choose a career you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

So when Paulson did choose to become a nurse, her mom was simply proud.

“Seeing the positive impact my mom and grandma made on people and how much it meant to them, made me want to help people in the same way they did,” she said.

‘You don’t know until you try’

As a nursing director at the Sanford Medical Center in Thief River Falls, Minnesota — about an hour away from Roseau — Paulson is now approaching 20 years in the nursing field this January.

Paulson has always believed in saying yes to new opportunities, with the thought that she doesn’t know until she tries.

And throughout her nursing career, that mentality has paid off. She’s enjoyed working in a variety of nursing settings from acute care to surgery and over the past nine years, nursing leadership.

With each patient she works with, Paulson tries to first build a relationship and then collaborate with them on goals for their care, such as successful recovery from an illness or surgery.

“Knowing it could be one of the hardest times of their life, but also there’s the other end of the spectrum where there could be really wonderful things happening, creates a really intimate relationship with patients,” she said.

Sometimes, Paulson said, it’s the basic things that can make all the difference for a patient, such as taking the time to listen. And although these acts of care may seem routine to a nurse, from a patient’s perspective, they could be monumental moments of feeling supported and understood.

“One of my favorite parts of my job is hearing just how meaningful patient interactions are with nurses,” she said. “I love celebrating those things.”

Illuminating the role of nurses

Just like nurses everywhere, throughout the pandemic Paulson’s team has had to step into new roles, being flexible with unknowns and practicing perseverance. But these traits, she points out, aren’t new to nurses.

“In general, those are the things nurses are doing every day, and the impact they’re making on patients who have COVID-19 is the same impact they make with each patient they care for,” she said.

But there is one thing Paulson hopes a spotlight on the nursing profession will create.

“Hopefully it inspires other people to want to do nursing too, because maybe people haven’t been as lucky to have people stop their mom on the street and say, ‘What a difference you make,’” she said. “I think people are seeing that now.”

The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. This designation honors the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of nursing, and recognizes the vital role of nurses around the world. At Sanford Health, we honor our nurses’ unique calling, compassion and commitment to patient and resident care.

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Posted In Bemidji, Fargo, Health Care Heroes, Nursing and Nursing Support, Thief River Falls

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