Klamath Falls Nursing Student Earns Degree Close to Home

06/11/01   KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.

On June 16 Karolyn Grodal of Bly will be awarded a bachelor of science degree from OHSU School of Nursing. With family responsibilities keeping her close to Bly, the 41-year-old Grodal is glad her achievement didn't require a 300-mile daily commute to OHSU's Portland campus. Instead, she earned her first college diploma by taking advantage of the statewide breadth of OHSU's nursing education program.

OHSU School of Nursing has four campuses in Oregon: Portland, La Grande, Ashland and in Klamath Falls on the Oregon Institute of Technology campus. For Grodal, OIT was the most convenient option. She and her family recently had moved from Washington to Bly to live near her retirement-age parents, who wanted to travel more and needed help managing the five rental housing units they own.

"It's been real rewarding," said Grodal, who lives with her husband, Nils, and children Jens, 18, and Kirsten, 16. "I've met a lot of people and made a lot of friends on top of learning a great deal."

Grodal wanted to be a full-fledged nurse since her 20s. She spent 10 years as a nurse's aide in long-term care facilities, where she was inspired and encouraged by nurses with whom she worked. She enjoyed being around the elderly. "They're so appreciative of everything you can do for them," Grodal said.

Grodal was attracted to OHSU because of its excellent reputation. "I thought if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right." However, trekking to Portland was out of the question, but Grodal could handle the hour-long commute to OIT.

During her two-year nursing program, Grodal distinguished herself among her peers. Last summer she won a $500 scholarship voted on by the school's faculty. She also was among a group of students who completed a research project and presented it at OHSU in Portland -- a rare honor for undergraduates.

The research spotlighted the misleading image of nurses on Internet greeting cards. On many of the cards, nurses were dressed in outmoded uniforms and portrayed as either sex objects or sadists. "No wonder people don't like to visit us," Grodal said with a laugh. As part of the project, Grodal and her colleagues developed a tool to evaluate the fairness and accuracy of the greeting cards.

Grodal described her school days as "full and busy." In addition to a full schedule of classes, Grodal participated in an array of clinical experiences: she worked in a crisis center for domestic violence victims, in home-health care and at a long-term care facility.

"The program offers so many sites in the community," said Grodal. "You get a really well-rounded clinical experience."

Eventually Grodal hopes to further pursue her elder-care interests and earn an advanced nursing degree in gerontology. For now she's happy to reflect on her graduation -- which she calls "a highlight" of her life -- and the last two years of her life.

"If anyone's planning on going into nursing, OHSU is a challenging program, but well worth it," she said. "The instructors are very supportive and encouraging of all students. They want you to achieve to the highest of your ability."

The pinning ceremony for the 18 baccalaureate students graduating from OHSU School of Nursing is Friday, June 15, 2001 at 7 p.m. OIT College Union Auditorium. The speaker is Eleanor Lustig-Butts, R.N., M.S.N., C.P.N.P. A reception follows the ceremony in the Firepit Lounge.

The convocation is Saturday, June 16, 2001, 10 a.m. at John Moehl Stadium, OIT.

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