In their 10th year of friendship, best friends Lauren Orson ’17 and Emily Honl ’17 have felt the “call to nursing” – and know it’s what they are meant to do.
Before they headed off to begin their nursing careers, we asked them a few questions about their experiences rooming together on campus, adventures traveling abroad and what it was like working with real patients during their nursing co-op at Sanford.
What led you to become interested in nursing before college?
Lauren: I was always drawn to medicine because my dad is a surgeon and my mom and grandma were both nurses. In high school, I was a flower delivery volunteer at a hospital in Fargo and eventually I knew I wanted to help people in some way – either through nursing or medicine. I chose nursing because it allowed me to start helping people sooner than if I would have continued through med school.
Emily: My mom went to nursing school and med school and I have always looked up to her. Also, in high school I was always drawn to the sciences and did very well in those courses. That’s what got me thinking that I should go that route. I knew I liked science and people. I felt like I had the certain qualities that made me fit to be a nurse. Before college, Lauren and I both had no experience being CNAs, which is quite uncommon coming into college, but it worked out just fine.
Why did you choose to stay in the F-M area and pursue nursing at Concordia?
Lauren: Since I grew up in Fargo-Moorhead, I became aware of Concordia’s great nursing program. Also, I knew I wanted to stay close to home after college. Both Sanford and Essentia have such good reputations for my field of work and I love that this city is growing immensely. My parents always said, “I want you to do whatever your heart wants you to do” and so I chose Concordia nursing.
Emily: I chose to go to Concordia because of the reputation of the program and the near guarantee that I could be done in four years. After I had a great tour, I felt like I would get the attention that I needed when going through such a challenging program.
Did you study abroad?
Lauren: We both went to Santorini, Greece. We didn’t know if it was going to be possible to fit time abroad into our college experience, but you can definitely fit it in earlier in the nursing major. The May Seminar opportunity was a nice break and an opportunity to meet new people right before you gear up to start the nursing major. We were exposed to different cultures and diversity and learned how to communicate with new people. We also made some of our best friends through this experience!
Emily: I also went on a May Seminar for community health nursing to Tanzania. We did clinicals in the hospital. We organized health teaching courses: hand washing, oral hygiene and emotional health for 6- to 15-year-olds in the school system. It was an eye-opening experience seeing how cultural differences affect health practices. In Tanzania, doctors and nurses play a very different role, and there is a greater emphasis on the family to take care of the sick.
What other kinds of real-world experience did you gain in the nursing program?
Lauren: We both completed the Sanford Nursing Co-op. For this co-op, we had to apply and went through a full panel interview competing against a lot of other applicants from all over. More than a hundred applied and only half of the applicants made it. After we were accepted, we got to choose which part of the hospital we wanted to work in. During the co-op, you get to follow a nurse and you receive a lot of hands-on experience. As the summer went on, we gained more and more responsibility. I worked in the day unit usually 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. helping get ready for procedures. At the beginning, we watched the nurse work with patients. By the end of the summer, they were watching us. It was so cool. Eventually my nurse would take one patient and I would take five. She would say, “You know what you’re doing! Just go do it!”
Emily: I worked on the surgical floor where I handled patients and work post-surgery. I worked either days or nights. Lauren and I only worked one shift together during that time. It was good, though, because it made us branch out. We felt really independent.
How was it living with your best friend throughout college while being in the same program?
Lauren: We lived together every year but one. It was never really an issue. We know each other so well that we can basically work through any problem.
Emily: We know that Lauren is super clean and I am messy. We know each other’s quirks. Through college, we were taking almost all of the same classes, so we have definitely become closer. We only had one fight throughout that whole time. By the end of our argument we were like, “Why are we fighting? We don’t want to be fighting!”
What will you be doing after graduation?
Lauren: We are moving to Urban Plains in Fargo. It is conveniently next to our future jobs!
Emily: We both have been hired to work in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the new Sanford in Fargo! We both really like all of the nurses on the floor; they are really inclusive.
Can you talk about your duty as a nurse? What do you hope for in your career?
Lauren: I want to be that nurse that takes such good care of a patient that they come back to say, “Thank you for helping me get healthy again.” If you can help individual patients every day, you will gradually make the whole community become healthier. We also have to take care of the families of the individuals that are in critical care. Some patients have families and some do not. We have to make sure we are communicating with them and being able to reassure them, explain what is happening, and relate to them on a personal level.
Emily: I would really like to do another medical mission trip. Though, I know I have a duty to the people of this community around me. One thing that surprised me in the ICU was the large population of younger patients. I always assumed it was older people, but a lot of them are young and are there due to drug-related issues. That was really eye-opening. I want to help them.
How has your liberal arts background prepared you for your career?
Lauren: At Concordia, they encourage us to not discriminate. As a nurse, it’s not your job to judge your patient. We are there to take care of them regardless of their background, addiction or history. Our professors have definitely taken a lot of time throughout our classes to teach about culture and diversity – something that you are very exposed to in a hospital.
Emily: In general, learning about a diverse number of topics in college has made me a more well-rounded person and a better community member. Also, as nurses, we will always be BREWing.
What should students who are considering the nursing major know?
Lauren: It will be tough. Everyone in the program knows how challenging it is. But know that you’re not alone in this, and you have so many people that want to see you succeed and can help you along the way.
Emily: It’s the rite of passage that every nurse has to go through. Even though it’s the biggest time commitment and it’s one of the hardest things you will ever do, it’s worth it in the end to be where you want to be in the career. Everyone in the nursing program is really supportive. Also, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get through it without Lauren. So I would say to a student: find that person in your program that will help you get through it.
How do you feel leaving college?
Lauren: We are ready to start helping people. We are SO excited to take what we have learned and go do it. To us, this is going to be the most rewarding career.
Emily: We have finally made it!
Danyel Moe '17 is a content specialist at Concordia.