Giving back: Community-minded nurse brings special commitment to care

Sadio Aar

Sadio Aar

For Fairview nurse Sadio Aar, the financial support of the Nursing Diversity Initiative is not only enabling her to obtain her BSN, but also leading her to care for community health with new insight.

Sadio Aar immigrated from Somalia to the United States as an eight-year-old refugee. As a young child, Aar grew up in an underserved community and the importance of giving back was taught early on.

“I remember going to the community center after school to help younger kids with their homework, helping the elders with reading their mail, interpreting for people over the phone whose phone or electricity was cut off, and many more things,” Aar reflected.

closing the financial gap

Aar became an RN in January 2017 after graduating with her associate's degree from St. Catherine University in December 2016. She took a semester off between her RN and BSN degrees to find a nursing job as a new graduate and save money to pay for tuition out-of-pocket. Aar maxed out on her financial aid assistance in her previous degrees and was unable to qualify for additional aid. For the past 11 months, Aar has worked at Fairview Southdale Hospital.

Minnesota is currently battling two major workforce challenges: Minnesota employers lack qualified applicants for jobs in high demand, and Minnesota has one of the widest opportunity gaps in the nation for people of color, with a significant portion of the population facing unemployment and underemployment. To tackle these challenges, the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership has developed a career laddering approach to streamline health care workforce pathways.

The Nursing Diversity Initiative is part of this approach, and supports diverse two-year degree RN nurses from the Central Corridor to earn BSN degrees by providing financial aid and onboarding training. Fewer persons of color obtain four-year BSN degrees than two-year degrees, yet there is a strong national push from the Institute of Medicine for hospitals to have at least 80% of their nursing staff to hold BSN degrees by 2020. More than half of the projected health care job openings in the Central Corridor over the next five years are nursing jobs. 

Thanks to funding from the Otto Bremer Trust, the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership is helping support diverse 2-year RN nurses pursue RN to BSN programs at partner universities.

investing more and giving back

After hearing about the Nursing Diversity Initiative through an email her supervisor sent out to the team, Aar returned to St. Catherine to pursue her BSN. As a student with previous degrees, Aar is currently paying off student loans while attempting to pay out-of-pocket for the BSN program. Aar works 72 hours biweekly and regularly picks up extra shifts to pay for tuition.

"Sadio has been a part of the Fairview Southdale Station 88 team since March of 2017," said Allison Stratton, Aar's manager.

"We were impressed by Sadio’s commitment to serving others as shared about her previous work serving the community, and in her role as a social worker prior to completing her nursing degree. She is a wonderful asset to our team as she comes with a smile on her face every day and has a graceful presence. She cares for her patients and family members with the utmost respect. Her patients truly adore her kindness, compassion, and knowledge at the bed side." 

Aar feels that the Nursing Diversity Initiative has allowed her to cut down on her hours at work and invest more time in school and giving back to the community to enhance her nursing education.

“The Initiative will allow me to utilize all the opportunities the BSN program has to offer,” Aar noted. “It will maximize my education by being able to do more reflective learning and implementing new knowledge and skills that I gain into my daily nursing practice.”

BSN and Community health

While Aar earns her BSN degree, she also plans on completing her public health nurse certification.

“My overall goal in obtaining my BSN degree is to first and foremost give back to the underserved communities,” Aar stated. “I plan on doing this through community outreach and public health education. I also plan on applying the skills and knowledge I gain through my BSN program in my daily practice of nursing and implementing more mindfulness and reflective nursing in my daily practice.”

Aar believes that obtaining her BSN degree and becoming a public health certified nurse will give her the opportunity to work with community members in a different capacity.

“I believe that those who are closest to the problems and who have a deeper understanding of what specific community health disparities are have a better understanding of what solutions are needed to bring about systemic changes to those communities,” Aar explained.

new perspective on health disparities

As a first-generation immigrant who grew up in poverty and comes from a community with significant health disparities, Aar believes it is her responsibility to utilize the knowledge and skills she gains through the BSN program to give back to the community. She plans to use her BSN degree to work at the community level with patients and their families and advocate for bridging the health disparities gap.

A BSN degree will allow Aar to develop a new way of thinking as a bedside nurse by implementing evidence-based-practices into her daily nursing practice.

It would empower me to better advocate for my patients and their families and help me develop better teamwork skills that encouraged collaborative and continuity of care between members of the healthcare team,” Aar commented.

Outside of school and work, Aar enjoys serving the community in her spare time - whether it is helping an immigrant fill out applications, helping a student with their homework, or connecting individuals with resources that promote stability. Aar enjoys listening to their hopes and dream and hearing about their journeys that brought them to where they are now. In addition, Aar enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as partaking in some of her hobbies including traveling, nature, hiking, watching movies, and drinking coffee over a nice conversation.