From the nursing program at LaGrange College to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Sarah Podbielski achieved her dream of becoming a pediatric nurse.
“I came to work with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as an RN in July 2008,” she said,“and I work in the pediatric intensive care unit of the hospital.
“My experience at LaGrange College really prepared me for my nursing career. I developed close relationships with all of my professors, inside and outside the classroom,” she continued.
“If I encountered a problem, I could always go and talk with them; they were almost like second moms to me.”
She also appreciated the honest discussions about the direction she should move in.
“They identified my personal strengths and weaknesses, which was enormously helpful in figuring out what path to take and what area to focus on,” she said.
At LaGrange, Sarah was encouraged to use her summers to work in clinical settings.
“The nursing faculty found lots of opportunities for me to volunteer and gain experience through internships and externships that I wouldn’t necessarily have had at a larger school,” she said, “and that experience paid off.”
During a normal shift at Children’s Healthcare, she cares for two patients at a time, though when a child is critically ill, she provides one-on-one nursing.
Since children recover more quickly when surrounded by their family members, Sarah says she appreciates that the hospital focuses on treating the child and their family—by tending to their mental, developmental, spiritual and emotional needs.
“These children come here from all over the place,” she said. “One of the first things I do is to get to know their family.”
Sarah says she especially enjoys working with children.
“They’re so resilient. Most children will lie in bed with a fever of 105 degrees, and they’ll want to know when they can go out and play.” she said. “Whereas, you and I would be totally incapacitated.
“They’re so strong; something about them is just amazing.
“I come into work, thinking I’m going to teach them things,” she smiled, “but when I leave at the end of the day, I’ve learned something from them.
“When I care for a child with a terminal illness, I learn so many life lessons.”
Learning wasn’t always easy for Sarah. While pursuing her studies at LaGrange College, she was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, which made studying and retaining what she’d learned difficult.
She credits assistant professor of nursing Linda Barber with providing the encouragement she needed to succeed in the program.
“She was always there when I stumbled,” Sarah said.
“She would tell me to keep going, that I was going to be a great nurse, which was such an inspiration to me.”
Sarah is now pursuing her graduate degree in nursing at Georgia State University.
“Linda and I continue to stay in touch,” she said. “She encouraged me to apply to graduate school, and she believes that I will do well.”