The Pediatric Nurse

Augustana graduate Kendra Gerber is a registered nurse at Sanford Health

Photo courtesy Sanford Health.


Meet nursing major Kendra Gerber ‘16, a registered nurse at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls.

Q. Tell us about the path to your first job at Sanford Health.

A. The path to my first job after Augie has been amazing. Taking nursing boards was not fun (but it never is), but I truly felt that Augie prepared me for boards and for my career as a nurse. I was also part of the Partners in Nursing (PIN) program, a partnership between Sanford and Augie that allowed me to transition from student to real-life nurse much more smoothly.

Q. What’s an average day like?

A. Every day at the hospital is a different day. You never know what to expect. However, I absolutely love my job. There are some days that are extremely difficult, but the kids I take care of are amazing and are the strongest people I know.

Q. Tell us about the greatest challenges and best rewards of your role as a registered nurse.

A. The greatest challenges I have faced as an RN are the losses we see. This is difficult no matter what area of nursing you are in, but it is by far the greatest challenge to lose our pediatric patients. However, my best rewards in pediatrics are when I finally get a smile or laugh out of a patient. We have patients who make us cards and crafts that light up our day, but something as simple as seeing a sick kiddo smile and laugh can change your mood for the better.

Q. Greatest professional accomplishment so far?

A. I feel that my greatest professional accomplishment so far is the research I am currently working on at work. My research as a PIN RN has allowed me to develop a handout for parents of pediatric parents and nurses to help them better prepare for procedures. These handouts that I created will be going to the entire Sanford enterprise (pending approval). I am so excited to see how this research ends up helping patients and their families.

Q. You’re originally from Lester, Iowa. How did you choose Augustana?

A. I had heard of Augie since I lived near Sioux Falls my whole life. Augie was one of those places that I never thought I could actually get in to, but I thought I would give it a shot by touring and applying. I talked to some of the admissions staff at college fairs and really felt that Augie would be a great place for me, so I applied and was accepted!

Q. Favorite class as an Augustana student, and why?

A. It was a philosophy/religion class with Dr. David O’Hara. We explored both Theism and Atheism, and the class was a mix of both Theists and Atheists. Everyone was very respectful of each other’s beliefs, and it gave each of us a chance to ask questions to people who believe differently than we do.

Q. Favorite Augie professor and why?

A. I learned so much from Dr. O’Hara, and I ended up taking more classes from him just for the fun of it. He taught me so much about philosophy and religion, and I never imagined I would voluntarily take philosophy classes. He is such a kind and welcoming person to all of his students, offering up tea and a chat in his office. I recommend to any current or future student to take one (or more) of his classes. You will not regret it.

Q. What kinds of hands-on learning experiences did you have as a student?

A. I was involved in multiple different clinical placements through the nursing program that showed me the vastly different paths that are offered in the nursing career. I also did an internship at Sanford Children’s Hospital during J-term and spring semester of my senior year. That internship really prepared me for my job right now, and showed me that pediatric nursing was the path I wanted to take for my career. I was also part of three theatre performances as well during my time at Augie. The theatre performances were amazing, and I made new friends as a member of the Augustana theatre community.

Q. Best Augie memory?

A. I think my favorite memory was seeing Viking Days 2014 come together as I was one of the committee co-chairs. Our committee worked so hard, and it was amazing seeing it all come together so well. I honestly wasn’t sure how everything would turn out, but thanks to our amazing committee, it went better than I could have expected. Augie did a great job of ensuring that the core values were a staple in my life. From the classes I took to the church services I attended, my time at Augie reaffirmed my Christian faith and strengthened it in huge ways. I will always cherish my liberal arts education, as I feel it gave me a taste of everything that Augie has to offer. I feel Community and Excellence go hand in-hand when speaking of Augie, because the community at Augie is unlike anything you can find anywhere else. And for Service, the volunteer hours I was able to participate in throughout my years at Augie helped me in more ways than I could ever imagine.