News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

SHS graduate working as nurse at St. Charles

Sabrina Allen was raised in Sisters and grew up surrounded by her Sisters community. She has now returned to that community, working as a nurse at St. Charles Hospital in Bend.

Allen (formerly Reifschneider) attended Corban University after graduating from Sisters High School (SHS) in 2017. Throughout her high school career, Allen immersed herself in everything she could in the medical field.

“I knew I always had a call to the health care field. I just at the time didn’t know exactly where that would be,” she said.

Allen did the St. Charles rotations program with SHS health teacher Heather Johnson, where students were given the opportunity to shadow doctors and nurses in different parts of the hospital each week. Her experience in St. Charles rotations was her first time truly seeing how a hospital worked. She also shadowed at High Lakes Healthcare in Sisters.

“It really helped open my mind to the options in the health care field, and the health and medical classes I was able to take in high school helped solidify my want to pursue health care in some way,” said Allen.

She received her bachelor’s degree from Corban in health sciences (biology), graduating in December of 2020.

During her time at Corban, Allen felt called on a medical mission trip to Haiti, where she was able to assist the people in the villages with medical care and shadow doctors and nurses tending to patients in need.

“That trip really helped me to realize I wanted to pursue nursing specifically. I got to talk to the nurses and observe what they did daily, and I really felt it was God calling me to become a nurse,” she said.

After graduating, Allen attended Creighton University in Phoenix, Arizona, to receive her bachelor of science degree in nursing. She went on a 12-month accelerated program so she could begin her career shortly after graduating with her bachelor’s from Corban.

“There I was really able to solidify my time in clinicals and once again be reaffirmed that I was in the right field in nursing,” said Allen. “I got to see people on very often their worst or most scary day, or their last day of life, and that is a really unique position and unique way to hopefully be a light for those patients in those moments.”

When Allen was beginning the process of applying for residency programs, she and her husband, Luke, had the opportunity to move back to Central Oregon. She applied to the St. Charles residency program and was accepted.

“My husband and I had the opportunity to move back to this community and I thought how cool to be able to serve my own community at the hospital that I shadowed in and knew so well,” she said.

Allen started at St. Charles Bend in March of 2022. For the first three months of her new grad residency, Allen worked with other nurses, shadowing and getting training, and getting an understanding of her floor and patients. As a new grad, she is only working night shifts with four days on, two days off, two days on and six days off. Her new grad residency continues through March of 2023, when she will be assigned permanently to an area.

Allen began her nursing career at a time when the medical industry was feeling the pressures of dealing with a two-year-plus global COVID-19 pandemic. When Allen graduated from Corban, the world was still mostly shut down, yet she was still able to get the nursing experience she needed/wanted during her year in Phoenix at Creighton University.

“CU was a really great program for this time in the world because they really focused on their students’ clinical hours being hands-on, working in the hospitals, which is the invaluable experience we need going in,” she said.

Now a year later, Allen is working full-time as a nurse in a hospital that is facing a growing nursing shortage.

St. Charles Bend, amongst many hospitals around the nation, is struggling to hire local nurses and being forced to pay for traveling nurses. Allen sees the shortage daily in her work at St. Charles, and sees what the hospital is going through.

Still, she sees the positives.

“I’ve seen it really bringing the nurses together and communicating, and I am more aware of areas where I can jump in and help if there isn’t someone around. It creates a sense of camaraderie that we are all going through the same thing,” she said. “It is comforting in a way to know that we aren’t the only ones going through it in the nation, but it’s all about seeing the positives and how we can come out of it.”

Allen entered nursing when the health care world was already transformed, so she doesn’t know working in that world pre-pandemic, which has been a blessing for her.

“I don’t know anything different in nursing except for the right now; I am at the stage where I learn and absorb the most, and there’s so much to learn with the world we are living in,” she said.

Allen, growing up in Sisters, was able to create a network and community around her that supported her dreams and aspirations.

“I really felt loved here as a kid and supported,” she said. “Through the classes at the high school, my churches, my parents, and people around me played a big role in shaping who I am as a person and as a nurse today,” she said. “God was really the driving force in me getting into nursing, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the steppingstones that were put out for me to get into nursing,” she said.

Allen will continue to see the evolution of a health care industry still facing a global pandemic and nursing shortage, but will continue to also see the positives that can come out of the situation.

“We will always need nurses; they are by their patients’ side through everything they are facing, including potentially their last day. Nurses are an essential part of care,” said Allen.


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