By Maia Palmer ’16
Another patient walks through the door of the Multi Care Oncology/Hematology Clinic. A small woman with short curly hair and a white lab coat greets the patient by name and helps her out of her coat. The nurse leads the patient to a chemotherapy room and helps her into a chair. Asking about the patient’s children, the nurse connects tubes to various machines in the room. With a smile, the nurse slips out the door to collect her supplies.
After 35 years in nursing, Petra Scholl has a passion for helping patients. However, nursing was not her first career choice. Growing up in northern Germany she attended university for a degree in journalism, due to her interest in politics. At 22, she married and moved to the U.S. Here she decided to change her career to nursing and became a registered nurse. “I felt I could serve people better as a nurse,” Scholl said. “I could do more good.”
Now in her 70s, Scholl’s passion is for helping her patients at the cancer clinic and she is still going strong. She keeps a professional, calm and relaxed demeanor, but also interjects humor into her discussions. She comments on why this is so important, saying that most patients are scared about the situation they are in. Her humor and friendliness distinguish her among the other nurses.
The other clinic nurses all have same philosophy and Scholl describes them as easy to work with. Of Scholl, Carey Alvestad said, “She is always so friendly and helpful.” The staff works to support both each other and their patients. The clinic has a friendly environment, added to by the drawings on dry erase boards, local art and small rooms with televisions and chairs for patients and family.
Students interested in PLU’s nursing program or in patient care would benefit from volunteering at the Oncology clinic. It is a unique opportunity to work with people from all walks of life and to learn to appreciate people at both their best and worst.
One only has to look at nurses like Scholl to see the benefits. She said she would never change her job, because no other job would give her as much satisfaction. As for the impact on her life, Scholl said, “It made me realize that you just let go of the little things and really concentrate on the important parts of your life, because you never know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to end.”
This outlook keeps her going each day, seeing strength and determination where other people see only pain and suffering.