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Student Spotlight

Sheryl Anderson & Nursing


“The Missing Puzzle Piece”

Some students “fall” into nursing because they are not quite sure what they want to do, so they try the field to see if it is a “fit”.  But on the opposite end of the spectrum are students who end up in nursing because they find out through life experiences that nursing is the missing puzzle piece that will make them complete, will enable them to work most effectively in their “passion” area.  Sheryl Anderson is one of those students.

“You aren’t a registered nurse.”

Sheryl went through a lot to find out that she wanted and needed to become a registered nurse. With a previous major of exercise physiology, she continued her education to earn a master’s in public health. While working for four years in the cardio-vascular field in Kansas City, a cardiologist trained her in the nuclear imaging lab. He let her be in charge of stress tests. He taught her to do IVs and isotopes. He placed no limits on her as he grew confident of her capabilities. But other cardiologists limited her, saying, “You aren’t a registered nurse.”

The doctors’ comments didn’t propel her at that time to charge back to school for a nursing degree. Instead she took a job with Merck Pharmaceuticals and through four years with that company found that she missed working closely with people, and that she wasn’t too crazy about focusing on drugs as the remedy to people’s problems. So she continued her search for the perfect job, working in what she describes “the incredible hospice facility in Cheyenne”.  While there, a recruiter sought her out because of her master’s in public health, and she subsequently found herself in a contract position with the Wyoming Department of Health Emergency Preparedness Program.

So what is her passion area?

The jobs noted above are dramatically different from one another, seemingly unrelated. What is her “passion area” then?  Anderson noted that the “passion” was not there at first. Just an interest that grew through various work experiences in the cardiology and public health fields.

“I first heard about becoming a diabetes educator about two years after graduating with the Master’s in Public Health,” says Sheryl.  Her public health studies emphasized prevention. And prevention plays a key role in many of the public health concerns that this country faces, says Anderson – “such as diabetes, overweight, high blood pressure, and heart disease.  Diabetes is fascinating to me. It is a disease whose individuals and numbers could be reduced through prevention, yet there is an epidemic of diabetes in this country. I see so many youth that are overweight, eating junk food, playing video games and not exercising. I personally am concerned that younger individuals are overweight and developing serious health issues such as Type II Diabetes. Young children are contracting diabetes because they do not have the education to show them what/how to eat. They lack basic nutrition information.”

And again… “You aren’t a registered nurse…”

Once again, Anderson found herself limited on what she could do, this time in regards to fulfilling her emerging passion for diabetes educator. Through her research on the career, she found that she needed to be either a registered nurse or a registered dietician to work in diabetes education.  And she would need to get certified as a diabetes educator as well.

And again, she did not beat a path back to school for a nursing degree. Instead she continued in her role in the Wyoming Department of Health Emergency Preparedness Program, and headed to a conference as a representative from the Department of Health.  The conference was a nursing conference.  In the car while driving to the conference, her husband randomly asked her, “What would you study if you could go back to school?”  She answered without hesitation, “Nursing.” At the conference a woman came up to her and started talking to her as if she had been in the car with them in that conversation. The woman started telling her what she needed to do to get going in nursing.

And this time, she took the advice. Anderson will be a senior nursing student this fall 2012. After she graduates in May 2013 and passes the RN-NCLEX licensing examination, no one will be able to put a limit on her passions and possibilities by saying to her, “You aren’t a registered nurse.” The sky’s the limit – and you can be sure Sheryl Anderson will push even that limit to make headway with her passion to help change the health of this country’s youth.  So we look forward to seeing where Sheryl Anderson’s future will take her… as a Registered Nurse!


Sheryl Anderson

Sheryl Anderson works with manikins in the school's Clinical Simulation Center.
Sheryl Anderson plies her new trade in the school's Clinical Simulation Center.
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