Scholarship helps nurse advance long-term care career

Serving residents in Scotland, South Dakota, since she was 16, Good Samaritan Society nurse Anna Struck is developing quite the fan club.

“We’ve followed her from the time she was a CNA into college,” Society resident Rosemarie Winckler says. “We prayed for her, every day. She’s such a sweetheart."

Prayers for wisdom as Anna recently took a test to become a registered nurse.

“I just, oh, I can’t believe it. I passed," Anna says smiling. "Really good feeling to finally be where I wanted to be."

Career opportunities at Good Samaritan Society

Thanks to a Build Dakota Scholarship in partnership with the Society, the former CNA turned LPN was able to continue working at the nursing home while studying for her RN associate's degree at Southeast Tech in Sioux Falls.

“I don’t know if I would have had it in me to go back as soon as I did if not for the nurses I work with,” Anna says about her team.

One of Anna’s biggest cheerleaders is her boss, director of nursing Rebecca Pedersen.

“She is very dedicated. She goes above and beyond,” Rebecca says.

Retaining nurses like Anna, along with recruiting them, is a top priority at the Society and Sanford Health.

“Within Good Sam, the career opportunities are endless. You just have to get your foot in the door. You just have to be willing to show up and put in the effort and just learn,” Rebecca says.

“(Anna) really has a strong relationship with all the residents. I think they trust her. They open up to her."

'All the residents love her'

Resident Pam Vanderbrink came to the Society for therapy and rehabilitation.

“I’m just here to get therapy, get stronger. Then I’m going back to Rapid,” Pam says.

When Pam has questions during her stay, Anna makes her feel “like I’m important, like she cares. Like you’re not just another person here.

“She always has a smile on. Always friendly. All the residents love her, she’s so nice."

The drive to care has been with Anna since she was a kid.

“I was hospitalized as a child. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 8 years old. The nurses were just so kind and caring and helpful. I just knew that was something I could see myself doing too,” Anna says.

“I think of many of the residents as my grandmas and grandpas almost. They care for you. They know what’s going on in your life. It’s one big family."

A family benefitting from a skilled group of nurses continuing to learn the latest health care strategies and technology.

“Respecting them, valuing them, helping them feel the love of Christ. When you have long-term relationships with people, you get to impact their life in a more meaningful way over a period of time. That’s what I love about long-term care nursing,” Rebecca says.

'Weight off my shoulders'

Now 27 with no debt from climbing the career ladder, Anna plans to continue sharing her gifts with her neighbors.

“It took so much weight off my shoulders,” Anna says about receiving the scholarship.

“It really solidified that this really is a family here. It’s more than just a workplace. It meant so much."

Rebecca adds, “I think Sanford and Good Sam, they value their employees.

“When you feel supported and loved and accepted in a workplace, it’s just easy to keep coming back."

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