Originally trained as a physical therapist in her homeland of Germany, Sabs Sheppard chose nursing after moving to the U.S. 12 years ago. After working with nurses for years, she realized that the profession more closely aligned with her goals and ambitions to work in critical care.
Wearing CU colors of black and gold, Sabs Sheppard’s daughters
Alaynah (11) and Ayannah (10) show pride in their mother and CU!
In Germany, “Nurses don’t have the same type of training or respect,” said Sabs.
When she told her father she was going back to school to become a nurse, he was incredulous. “He said, ‘Why would you change careers to become a nurse?’” But after he visited last summer, toured the Anschutz Medical Campus, talked to Sheppard’s professors, and saw her in action, he was floored. “He said to me, ‘It all makes sense now. I can’t wait for you to graduate and be a nurse.’” For Sheppard that was a big moment for father and daughter.
As a single mother, Sheppard has worked hard to juggle nursing school and work while raising her two daughters. When asked if she ever regretted going back to school to pursue nursing, she responded, “I wish I would have done it sooner so that I could already be out there and do so much more than what I am doing now! My passion for the nursing profession as well as knowing that my parents are proud of me is what drives me and solidifies that I have chosen the right path.”
Questions & Answers for a Student During the Pandemic of 2020
How many children do you have?
I have two daughters.
What are their ages?
They are 10 (Ayannah) and 11 (Alaynah) years old.
What’s it like juggling school, work and homeschooling your children?
It definitely isn’t easy. I have been working full time and going to school for many years now, so my daughters and I have a very well-functioning system that we have created for us. It allows us all to be the most efficient at our schoolwork, for me to go to work and for my kids to still have a chance to experience extracurricular activities (violin, cello, piano, rugby…). With the Corona pandemic everything changed of course, but since we have established our teamwork for so many years prior to this, we quickly found our new norm: The girls are doing their remote learning while I am able to complete some of my hours for my immersion clinical at DAWN, or they let me take a nap after coming home from a night shift and then we focus on something fun! We do arts and craft, we work out, we go for walks or try to enjoy nature, we cook and bake together and we always make sure that we have our 5-minute debrief at the end of the day while we sit at the dinner table. This is the time where everyone is allowed to share as little or as much as they would like about what happened that day or about what they feel.
I think you mentioned you were trained as a PT, is that correct?
Yes, that is correct. I have a degree in Physical Therapy from Germany.
Who do you work for and what does your work entail?
I currently work as a Student Assistant for the College of Nursing. In this position I work closely together with the Office of Admission and Student Affairs and assist with recruitment events on and off campus as well as with the application screening and interview process for the undergraduate programs. I address general questions about the College of Nursing for prospective, newly admitted and current students and perform general office duties.
I am currently also employed by UCHealth as an Advanced Care Partner (ACP) on the Surgical Trauma ICU at University Hospital. This is basically the position of a nurse extern where I am able to actively collaborate with registered nurses while performing the duties of a CNA with additional specialized skills that I have been signed off on during my nursing school clinical rotations.
Sabs Sheppard and a few of her CU Nursing friends in class.
Are you seeing Covid-19 patients?
Even though the Surgical Trauma ICU is my home unit, I am being floated to designated COVID ICU’s when the need is there. This has been happening a lot lately, but I absolutely love it. Working with extremely ill patients is my passion and having a chance to assist in their care and help only solidified my aspiration to go into critical care.
What’s your “immersion” placement?
My original placement was on a step-down unit at University Hospital (MSPCU- Medical Specialty Progressive Care Unit) and since most hospitals are currently not able to take on any students for their clinical rotations, I was placed at DAWN Clinic. DAWN Clinic is a free student-run clinic that serves the uninsured patients from the Aurora Community. My Immersion Placement entailed creating a risk assessment tool with a group of fellow nursing students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though I am not physically with these patients, I am now calling high risk patients to assess their health and medication needs as well as their basic food and living needs and utilizing the risk assessment tool. I help educate them about COVID-19 prevention and help give medical advice that is in my scope of practice. I am able to connect the patients with the providers at DAWN for urgent needs and medication refills as well as other social needs and resources. This is a very different experience than what I expected from my original placement, but I am learning a lot and I feel that my work is helping the patients, the community, as well my confidence.
Are you getting your clinical hours?
I am able to slowly accumulate my clinical hours by studying the charts, calling the patients, coordinating appointments and resources and charting everything when I am done. I am not sure if I will be able to graduate in May as planned, but I will keep doing the work that has been assigned to me.
You’re from Germany. Is it challenging to be away from your immediate family at this time? And what’s it like there with regard to Covid-19? Are they under some of the same restrictions we are?
I have been in the States since 2008 so I guess I have gotten accustomed to having some kind of distance in between my family and me, but it is definitely more difficult at times like this. My mom visits my daughters and me every year and my dad was able to come to Colorado and experience what we call home now for the first time just last year. Both of my parents are not the youngest anymore and both work in the healthcare field. My dad is a pharmacist and my mom is a Medical Assistant for a Neurologist. Germany essentially has the same restrictions we have here in the States, but both of my parents have to work as they are considered “essential personnel”, so I do worry about them.
What time do you go to work and what time do you get off?
At the hospital I work day-, mid-, and night shifts interchangeably, but all shifts are 12 hour shifts with a 30 minute lunch break. So usually I start at 6:30am-7pm or the pm-am shift. The College of Nursing is giving me the opportunity to work remotely from home, so I am able to answer emails and voicemails at my own discretion, which has been extremely helpful.
Why did you decide to apply for new grad programs right now?
Ultimately my goal is to join the workforce as soon as I can. One of my good friends asked me if I regret going back into the medical field and sacrificing so much for so many years, now that I see what I am getting into. My answer was: “I wish I would have done it sooner, so that I could already be out there and do so much more than what I am doing now!” My passion for the nursing profession is still what drives me and solidifies that I have chosen the right path.