There are lots of different pathways to become a nurse, and one of Sanford Bemidji’s newest registered nurses had her own unique journey. Danielle Schultz graduated this spring from Bemidji State University’s nursing school and started full-time at Sanford this summer.
But her time at Sanford started much earlier, and the path to her career was anything but standard.
Pandemic changes the plan
“It was my freshman year when COVID hit, and all of the sudden we got kicked out of our dorm rooms and told to go home. We’re going online,” said Schultz.
Schultz says she struggled with online learning, especially as a nursing student. She needed hands-on experience.
“Nursing is face-to-face. Learning online doesn’t seem right. So as I went through school, we got to do more face-to-face, and to give us opportunities to be in front of students, they sent out job opportunities through Sanford. That’s where I applied for my guest service job where I was greeting people and screening people in the ER,” Schultz said.
“I think she really had a drive to work in the medical field,” said Ryan Ohnstad, director of critical care at Sanford Bemidji. “When you’re in school to be a nurse and working towards that opportunity, when they’re kind of shutting everything else down, I think she saw it as an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, let’s try this.’”
So in the school year of 2020, at the height of COVID, Danielle Schultz became a greeter at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. It was a role that became an invaluable training ground.
“We’d have people come in with their whole families and trying to talk to them and say, ‘Sorry your family can’t come in.’ That got really hard,” said Schultz. “I definitely got more comfortable with it as it went on. But starting off, I needed help. In my position I’m in now, I talk to patients all the time, and need to help them understand things. It’s a really big learning curve. Because you need to be very careful in those situations talking to people about such delicate things.”
Nursing in the ICU
Schultz’s experiences at Sanford also changed the trajectory of her career plan. Initially she wanted to be a pediatric nurse. But after an internship spent in the telemetry and intensive care units, she pivoted. Now, three years after starting as a greeter, she is a full-time ICU nurse.
“It was kind of a no-brainer,” said Ohnstad. “Danielle definitely has a personality of, she really likes to process how diseases work, and dig deeper into what’s going on with patients. And the ICU is a great place to do that.”
“I like the ICU side of it because it’s something new every day. There’s stuff I haven’t seen before coming in all the time,” Schultz said.
Sanford Health hasn’t seen many nurses like Danielle Schultz before either. From greeter to intern to RN, her path may have been unorthodox, but like every one of her colleagues, the end result is the same. She is a nurse with a passion for caregiving.
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