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Former accountant Sarah Bell Rosenlund prepares for new career in nursing at PLU’s Lynnwood campus

Former accountant Sarah Bell Rosenlund prepares for new career in nursing at PLU’s Lynnwood campus

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Image: PLU ABSN major Sarah Bell Rosenlund poses for her Senior Spotlight portrait, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, at the ABSN Lynnwood campus. (PLU Photo / Sy Bean)

May 15, 2024
By Mark Storer
PLU Marketing & Communications Guest Writer

Sarah Bell Rosenlund has always been a people person. She radiates positive energy, and smiles broadly when she talks about her PLU experience. “I realized that my gift is to be a helper to people,” she said. “I love to be in acts of service. It’s where I’m happiest.”

It seemed only natural that she would decide on nursing as a career, but Rosenlund took a bit of time to get there. At the age of 53, Rosenlund will graduate magna cum laude this May with the second cohort from PLU’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.

The ABSN program is based in Lynnwood, 40 miles from PLU, and opened in 2022. With an increased demand for nurses across the country, the program is designed to give students who already have 60 undergraduate college units in other fields of study a chance to earn their bachelor’s in nursing at a faster pace.

For Rosenlund, who lives in Graham, the commute to Lynnwood was offset by staying occasionally with her son and daughter-in-law in Seattle. “There’ve been some long days, so I’d crash on the couch and buy dinner for them.”

Her family – husband, children, and step-children – made the program possible for her. “They have picked up the pieces in every way when I have been stretched thin, and without their support I could not have managed all my responsibilities,” she says.

Rosenlund spent the past semester in a preceptorship in the emergency room of St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way. “I loved the experience and the people,” she says. “And it really suited me. I want to work in an emergency room.” She’s been encouraged by St. Francis nursing staff to apply for a permanent position.

This January, Rosenlund joined PLU’s study-away program and traveled with other nursing students to Oaxaca, Mexico for three and a half weeks. There, they offered health screening fairs and services to the community and learned about common public health problems.

“I focused on people’s dental needs,” Rosenlund says. “I inspected kids for cavities and did a lot of teaching about flossing and brushing, which some of the kids had never learned to do properly.”

Rosenlund previously worked as an accountant and even ran her own accounting business for many years. She first earned an associate’s and then a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Western Governors University, but she didn’t feel quite comfortable with her career path.

“I finished the bachelor’s in June of 2019, and by Christmas time, I felt this little tapping on my shoulder.”

She felt a calling, and as a person of faith, she needed to heed the voice telling her, “You’re supposed to be a nurse.” Right before COVID-19 began, she approached her husband and told him what she was thinking. “He said, ‘You’d be a terrific nurse! You should go for it,’” Rosenlund recalls.

She didn’t have any illusions about the difficulties of nursing school, especially an accelerated program like PLU’s ABSN. Rosenlund said she drew encouragement from another difficult time in her life, when she decided to run a marathon just to see if she could do it.

“It’s how I dealt with my stress, and once I decided to do it, I wasn’t going to quit. It was a huge sense of accomplishment and it taught me, ‘you can do hard stuff.’”

Rosenlund says the ABSN program is for self-starters who can be flexible with their time. “Much of the work is asynchronous and self-driven, so you have to commit to it.”

That commitment paid off. She’ll graduate in May and she hopes to soon begin work as an emergency room nurse, a dream that’s been a lifetime in the making.