Anna Sprunger ’20
Majors: Nursing (B.A.), German
Registered Nurse, University of Wisconsin Health Systems — American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison

Please tell us about what you do at UW Health.

I work in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit as a registered nurse. I help take care of critically ill infants, children, and young adults. I also am enrolled in a nurse residency program where I take classes and participate in simulations to build on the foundation that I received during my Concordia education.

What is the best part about your job?

I love the variety of patient diagnoses and ages that I see in my job. My hospital has a Level I Trauma designation, so we get patients with a wide array of illnesses and injuries from all over Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. It also is a research facility through the University of Wisconsin, so I enjoy how every day that I go to work, I learn something new.

How did your time at Concordia prepare you for grad school and your current work?

Physicians and fellow nurses have been impressed by my preparation through the Concordia nursing program. I realize now that few nursing schools have the number of clinicals offered by Concordia. The practicum experience, a 120-hour clinical capstone with a single preceptor in an area of nursing of your choosing, is unique. My practicum with Sanford Children’s Pediatric Float Team was a fantastic opportunity to gain confidence and affirm my nursing interests. As I transitioned from nursing student to working as a registered nurse, I was able to apply what I had learned during my practicum to my new job.

What skills are most necessary for success in the healthcare field?

Being flexible, having compassion for others, thinking critically, and continuing to learn are necessary for success in the healthcare field.

Why did you choose Concordia?

When I was looking at colleges, I knew that I wanted to study both the arts and the sciences. I chose Concordia because of its strong commitment to world languages, study abroad, and undergraduate research. Concordia let me combine nursing with a foreign language. I also was impressed by the number of opportunities outside of the classroom to get involved.

What do you wish you knew in college that you know now?

I wish that I knew that grades don’t matter as much in the workplace as I felt like they did in college. Make sure to take time for yourself away from your schoolwork to hang out with friends, family, and explore the Fargo-Moorhead area.

What is your favorite Concordia tradition?

My favorite Concordia tradition is Orientation. As a freshman, I loved my club and still talk to many of my clubbies on a regular basis. I went on to be an Orientation Leader twice and felt so lucky to be able to show incoming students all that Concordia has to offer.

Did you complete a PEAK (Pivotal Experience in Applied Knowledge) while at Concordia? If so, please tell us about that experience.

I completed several PEAKs while at Concordia, all involving global travel. My sophomore year, I went on a spring Exploration Seminar to Israel and Palestine with Dr. Elna Solvang. The weeklong trip was my first real experience with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and offered a great perspective of both sides. The conversations that I had with Dr. Solvang, fellow Concordia students, and people we encountered on our trip opened up my world perspective and forced me to think critically about topics that I had not before. I also went on a May Seminar to Greece and Turkey with Dr. Roy Hammerling and Dr. Heather Waddell for my Credo Religion 300 course, which ended up being one of my favorite memories from Concordia. The course emphasized learning outside of the classroom and I enjoyed being able to visit the ancient sites we were learning about during our weekly field trips. The open-ended research paper was a powerful culmination of my Credo experience. Finally, my senior year I went to France with Dr. Polly Kloster and Dr. Gay Rawson on an Exploration Seminar. This trip made me think about nursing and healthcare in an international context.

Do you have a favorite Concordia professor or course and why?

The nursing department as a whole was great at ensuring that I succeeded as a nursing student and as a registered nurse. However, two professors stand out to me. Dr. Jane Indergaard was the first professor that I had as I entered the nursing program, teaching the Nursing Fundamentals course. My senior year, she taught our critical care nursing course, which helped me fall in love with the specialty. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Indergaard always made sure I felt supported and would answer any questions I had, whether related to her classes or not. Dr. Tally Tinjum also was a great mentor to me throughout nursing school. As graduation approached, she answered all of my questions about moving somewhere new to start my nursing career and made sure that I knew the department would support me wherever I applied.

Outside of the nursing department, Dr. Jonathan Clark, professor of German, was also a favorite. He worked with my clinical schedule and other nursing requirements to ensure that I could still earn the German major. My favorite course from Dr. Clark was “Witchcraft and the Imagination,” a class that emphasized primary documents from witch trials from the early modern period. While the topic of this class is not something I encounter within my nursing career, I still look back on it as a favorite class from undergrad.

What are the strengths of Concordia’s nursing program?

Concordia’s nursing program creates a very strong foundation for any specialty of nursing that a graduate may choose to pursue. Unlike many other nursing programs, Concordia students all have the same clinical rotations in more specialized areas of nursing like critical care, the emergency department, the operating room, and pediatrics. By exploring these areas of nursing, Concordia students have a well-rounded understanding of the different specialties they may go into or work with on a regular basis.

Additionally, as students within a liberal arts school, Concordia nurses graduate with a greater respect for diversity of cultures and religions. Taking a mixture of classes within the sciences, humanities, and the arts offers a perspective on the intricacies of healthcare that is not often found in other nursing programs.

Very unique to the Concordia nursing program are the interdisciplinary case studies that tie together a variety of viewpoints. Nursing students work with students from such areas as nutrition, social work, and healthcare leadership to go over a patient scenario, highlighting priorities of care within each discipline. These case studies prepared me to feel more confident as a new graduate nurse and gave me a greater respect for and understanding of what other members of the healthcare team do. I am reminded of these case studies each day at work as I take part in interdisciplinary rounds with physicians, pharmacists, social workers, and nutritionists.

What advice would you give to a current student or someone who is considering Concordia?

Make sure to get involved. There are so many options for on-campus clubs, intramural sports, and work-study opportunities. These programs are a great way to meet other students outside of your dorm and major.

Published January 2022