Sela Schroeder signed on to be a labor and delivery nurse two years ago, excited to help bring new life into the world, but amid the coronavirus pandemic she found herself caring for a patient in his final hours.
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Schroeder joined Mayo Clinic Health System in summer 2020, following an internship at the hospital and graduation from Viterbo University. Entering the medical field while the pandemic was still in its first months, Schroeder was not fearful or nervous, staying focused on her goal of helping others.
With medical facilities nationwide facing new challenges and higher patient loads due to the coronavirus, Schroeder “Jumped in to things, go(ing) with the flow and learn(ing) quickly,” she says. She appreciated the new opportunities at work, and stepped in to take on extra shifts when coworkers were out sick with COVID or needing to quarantine or care for ill family members.
Schroeder’s Heart of Healthcare nominator, her friend Wendy, notes that Schroeder also sacrificed seeing her loved ones for weeks at a time “in order to keep herself and her patients safe.”
Described as nurturing, responsible and empathic by Wendy, Schroeder loves her work with expecting families.
“My favorite part is being there for the labor with the moms and their support people and just seeing the mindset shift from ‘I can’t do this’ to ‘I did this and this is my baby.’ And they’re happy,” Schroeder says.
Schroeder has also seen the heartbreaking side of hospital work, floated to the medical surgical unit where she was assigned to be with a patient dying from COVID. The patient’s family was several hours away and unable to be there, and Schroeder sat with him for the last four hours of his life.
“It was hard,” Schroeder says, her voice breaking. “I was glad. I got to be there with him, but it was a very, very challenging experience. I would be with a patient again, but the sounds they make at the end of life is not something I would have expected.”
The emotionally draining experience did not cause Schroeder to waver in her decision to be a nurse, and her dedication has not gone unnoticed by her supervisor, Karizma Maxson.
“I was really excited for her. I know how hard she works,” Maxson says. “Don’t let her newness to nursing fool you — she’s an extremely capable individual who goes above and beyond each time she comes to work. It’s not always in our career that you get recognized for something like this, but I’m not surprised at all she was recognized for all that she does.”
In her nomination of Schroeder, Wendy expressed her friend, “Treats her patients the way she would want to be treated – kind, friendly, and patient-centric. She is an advocate for her. She is a blessing to her patients.”
Schroeder was “humbled” to learn of her nomination, and expressed appreciation for the support of her colleagues and their hard work.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” Schroeder says. “I’m very grateful and honored.”
Emily Pyrek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.