April 27, 2013

Personal Experiences Drive Career Choice for Mount Mercy Graduate

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Sara Kurt

Sara Kurt

Throughout life, instances happen that can mold a person into what he or she wants to do for their career. It happened to Sara Kurt.

Kurt, a senior at Mount Mercy University who is graduating in May, enrolled as a nursing major because of inspiration from her mother, a nurse at UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital-Dubuque. However, she didn’t expect to be more convinced during college that nursing was the career for her.

Sara Kurt during a work shift at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, April 13. Kurt will graduate in May from Mount Mercy University with a nursing degree.

Taylor Grangaard/Mount Mercy Times/Special to IowaWatch

Life experiences led Sara Kurt to seek a job in oncology nursing after she graduates in May from Mount Mercy University. She has worked as a patient care tech at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids while in college.

Her grandfather’s experience with cancer helped draw her interest deeper, to working with cancer patients in oncology. Six years ago that grandfather, Jimmy Daly, was diagnosed with skin cancer.  The year after, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which metastasized to his liver, and died in 2009.

“Grandpa always drank Diet Dr Pepper. At the end we used the toothette sponges with Diet Dr Pepper instead of water sometimes,” Kurt, 22 and a Dyersville Beckman High School graduate, said. “Being around the cancer process with Grandpa gave me the goal to provide comfort to those who struggle with their battles, as well as a constant reminder that helping is my passion.”

Kurt began working as a patient care tech at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids in her sophomore year of college. That following summer, in 2009, she had the definitive “a-ha” moment that sealed her desire to work in oncology. It came within the span of one week, at Camp Mak-A-Dream in Missoula, Mont.

Through a recommendation from her brother, who works there in the summer, Kurt volunteered as a counselor at this camp, founded for teenagers living with cancer. The camp is designed to make the teens feel at home, where others don’t focus solely on their cancer. “They could be themselves. That’s where they were comfortable,” Kurt said.

Sara Kurt with her grandparents, Kay Daly and Jimmy Daly. Jimmy died in 2009 but his battle with cancer led Kurt to start a career in oncology nursing.

Photo provided by Sara Kurt

Sara Kurt with her grandparents, Kay Daly and Jimmy Daly. Jimmy died in 2009 but his battle with cancer led Kurt to start a career in oncology nursing.

Living with 26 campers in a cabin, Kurt had the time of her life. She remembers being sick with a cold and forcing herself to refrain from participating, in fear of giving the cold to any of the campers.

The following August, at the beginning of her junior year, Kurt resumed working as a patient care tech at Mercy Medical Center. Her nurse manager pushed her over Christmas break of her junior year to fill out an internship application for the neurosurgery and oncology floor.

Sara Kurt during her Saturday, April 13, shift at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids.

Taylor Grangaard/Mount Mercy Times/Special to IowaWatch

Sara Kurt during her Saturday, April 13, shift at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids.

She got the internship and spent last summer on Mercy’s eighth floor. Yet another surprise came her way during the winter when she was offered a permanent position as a registered nurse on the same oncology floor that ignited her passion four years earlier.

“I hope to go farther and farther in oncology,” Kurt said. “I signed a two-year contract with Mercy to work on that floor so that is where I will be for a little while.”

Taylor Grangaard is a junior at Mount Mercy University and staffer for the Mount Mercy Times. She wrote this story as part of an IowaWatch/college student media project.
MAIN STORY: 2013 College Grads Seeking Jobs Hurting If They Didn’t Get Work Experience In School
This IowaWatch story was published in The Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA), Dyersville Commercial and Mount Mercy Times.

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