From social worker to nurse, Sarah Gillett said she had many experiences in her 30 years as a nurse.
“I love what I do and part of that too is that I’ve been blessed to always have these amazing colleagues around me. It makes the tough days bearable and the good days even more fun when you’re surrounded by really good people,” Gillett said of her second career as a nurse.
Gillett is from Hooper and attended public schools in Logan View. After high school, she attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she earned a degree in public health education.
For several years she worked as a social worker. Gillett then attended Midland University to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing.
For 25 years, Gillett was a labor and delivery nurse. Looking for a different schedule, Gillett switched to outpatient procedures about five years ago.
The patients Gillett sees are just outpatients. Some of these procedures could include those who need a blood transfusion, IV fluids, long-term IV antibiotics, etc. Although very different from labor and delivery, Gillett said she really enjoyed being on the ward and found it interesting.
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“We see some of our patients daily for weeks at a time, so it’s really great that we get to know them. That’s what makes nursing fun,” she said. “Those relationships you develop with people.”
Seeing patients frequently helps detect subtle changes in a patient’s health, Gillett said. Her patients become like very important family members or guests, she added. In the outpatient department, they may also be able to point patients in the right direction for the resources they need.
During COVID, they did monoclonal antibodies in their clinic. Although her patients weren’t the sickest, some were very sick, she said. The hope was that they would get their meltdown in time to prevent them from getting worse.
“It was very difficult, but we also felt very happy to be able to do it here because we felt it was something important and it was something that was very useful to the community”, a- she declared. “And not just the Fremont community, but we’ve had many patients come from Omaha and out of state, even just to get a spot at an infusion center.
“Although it was a bit stressful, we all felt great because we felt we were doing something that was actually helping to make a difference and keep people out of hospital.”
Gillett sat down with the Tribune to reflect on her time as a nurse.
Question. Tell us about your immediate family
To respond. My favorite role has always been that of mother to my three sons. The oldest, Grant Wallace, is a physician specializing in cardiology/cardiac electrophysiology. He and his wife, Stephanie, live in Columbus, Ohio. My second son, Ben, is an attorney and serves as legal counsel for our state legislature. He and his wife, Alexandra, live in Lincoln, Nebraska. They are expecting their first child this fall! My youngest son, Adam, lives in Oakland, Nebraska, and works as an agricultural analyst for Kaup Seed. My husband, Mike, is a Commercial Sales Representative for Nova Fitness Equipment.
Q. When, why did you decide to become a nurse?
A. Nursing is my second career. I also have a bachelor’s degree in public health education. I spent several years working as a social worker, but I wanted a different kind of challenge. My four brothers were all doctors and medicine has always interested me. Nursing seemed like a good choice. I went back to school and graduated as a nurse, summa cum laude, in 1992. It was the right choice.
Q. What do you love most about nursing and find most rewarding about it?
A. There are so many ways to practice nursing and that’s what makes it such a great career. You are always in demand and the opportunities are endless. The relationships you develop with patients and colleagues are by far the most rewarding aspect. Having had such a long tenure in labor and delivery, I’ve sometimes had the chance to tell a patent pending that I was there when they were born. It’s quite special.
Q. Funniest, saddest and most unusual experience in nursing?
A. There are too many fun experiences to share just one. While caring and compassionate, nurses also need thick skin, a strong stomach, and a great sense of humor. I could write a book! Fortunately, the good times far outnumber the bad. Death and loss are always difficult. When that loss involved a baby, it was especially heartbreaking. Fortunately, such cases were rare.
Q. If you had not become a nurse, what profession would you have practiced? And why?
A. Many things have interested me over the years. I have always liked real estate, but would not be suitable for sale. Perhaps an appraisal or a title search?
Q. Why are you glad you chose nursing?
A. Nursing has been good for me. My employer was good to me. For nearly 30 years, I have held a job that offers the tangible benefits of stability, variety, good income and good benefits. The other things that aren’t as easy to measure are even more important. We’re here for everything: the highest highs, the lowest lows and everything in between. We see everything. Our patients share things with us that they don’t share with anyone else. We hear everything. Nurses understand that this is a huge privilege and a huge responsibility. Few other professions can compare. I am so proud to be a nurse.
A. Retirement is on the horizon in the years to come. In the meantime, I will continue to learn, grow and strive to provide exceptional care to my patients.