Alumnus Timon Sahlstrom Explains What It’s Like to Be a Male Nurse

Alumnus Timon Sahlstrom Explains What It’s Like to Be a Male Nurse

By Travis Bondy

Timon Sahlstrom understands his purpose. During the hardest moments in life, he stands by his patients and gives them hope.

Sahlstrom is a 2016 Crown graduate and works as a full-time nurse at Presbyterian Homes and Services in Lake Minnetonka Shores. As a Clinical Coordinator and Direct Care Nurse, Sahlstrom spends most of his time working with patients who are going through rehabilitation.

One of the challenges he faces? Overcoming the stigma that men are not entering the nursing profession. It’s true that he is only one out of six men in his job at Presbyterian Homes, where the other 65 nurses are women. Yet, since the ‘70s, more and more men are choosing the field. Forty-five years ago, only 3% of nurses were men, compared to 10% today — around 330,000 total.

Sahlstrom benefited greatly from his time at Crown, where 95% of Nursing students graduated and passed the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) last year. As he explains it, the journey coincided with his own spiritual walk as a Christian.

1. Why did you want to go into nursing?

When choosing to pursue nursing for my major, I never viewed it as a career, but rather a calling. I come from a family that is very involved in pastoral ministry in a small town in Wisconsin, and have siblings who entered the ministry in similar fashions. I didn’t feel called to ministry in the same way. I always felt a passion for seeking and saving the lost, encouraging the weary, and bringing light to individuals and families through the toughest times of their lives. No profession better allowed me the opportunity to live out these passions than nursing.

2. Were you concerned about the challenging coursework?

From the first time I thought about nursing as a profession, I always expected it to be hard. This is part of what drew me to it–the hardest things in life are often the best! It feels similar to the Christian walk in some ways. There are always battles to fight and the road to the end is a lifelong journey, while you never end up attaining perfection or having all the knowledge or expertise in every area. Once I started memorizing, practicing, assessing, researching, and studying the many areas of the medical field and nursing I realized the incredible potential it presented to me as a future nurse. Being a nurse means you are a lifelong learner.

3. Why do you think male pass rates are so high at Crown?

Being a male nursing student (even in the 2010s) was still strange in a few ways: there were many more women in nursing programs, certain stigmas still existed about males in nursing programs, and it is often difficult to break into some female nursing groups. Even the more outgoing male nursing students could, at times, find it difficult to join with some of the typical female nursing student groups for studying, interacting in the community, and practicing assessments and skills. I would say that most of these things occurred unknowingly, but they still existed. Some of this helped give the male nursing students more motivation to succeed, as well as a desire to demonstrate how unique and useful male personalities and thought processes can be in this part of the medical field.

4. What sets Crown apart from other nursing schools?

Bottom line on this is the Christian-based nursing perspective and worldview. There are so many more parts to caring for any given individual that goes so far beyond their physical needs. Crown did an incredible job equipping me to be involved in the mental, psychological, emotional, and spiritual side of nursing care. The leadership and ethics classes presented so many insights into caring for the individual as a whole, not just the patient’s physical needs. Crown also equipped me with the ability to take ownership of the clinical needs presented to me on a daily basis. These needs can range from prioritizing treatments, delegating tasks, leading a team of nurses, directing admissions, performing procedures, or just communicating with my interdisciplinary team for new action plans and process changes.

5. How did Crown prepare you for passing the NCLEX test?

The rigorous courses, diversified clinical experiences, open communication, practice tests, lab simulations, and senior projects that interwove themselves throughout my years of nursing school were, in combination, the best preparation for the NCLEX. The professors were intentional about explaining how any given course material would fit into passing the test. I did find that the KAPLAN NCLEX Review Prep class was immensely helpful in preparing me for what is on the test. Having the resources and knowledgeable staff probably went the furthest in helping me to be ready mentally, as well as to be clinically proficient with the necessary information to be successful.

6. What has been your most significant success in nursing?

Being clinically proficient and promoting therapeutic interactions, treatments, and plans of care are among my highest priorities in the nursing field at my current job as a Supportive Clinical Coordinator. Beyond operating at my best level possible, I have found my greatest success in nursing to be the times when I have been able to touch the lives and hearts of the people I care for. The relationships I have built with patients and their families throughout the good and the bad has been my lifeline to continue my calling in the nursing field. I do so by the grace of God, and by seeking His strength and passion for His people every day, and lifting them up through words of encouragement, and meaningful interactions. You never feel more successful than when you are there for a hospice patient, or the family of a seriously ill patient in a way that allows them to feel loved and that they have value and a future (thanks to a God who is ever by our side).

7. What have you learned in the real world of nursing?

It is harder than you can imagine when you are in school. It is also more rewarding being able to persevere through the difficulties, the long hours, the tough family members, the uncomfortable situations, and the complexities of daily nursing tasks, delegation, prioritization, and treatments. Each day presents new challenges and new opportunities to be the champion for your patients, their needs, their families, and their successes. I can safely say that when I leave work after my shift is over, I leave with an incredible sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and gratitude that I have been able to serve in such a trusted, professional, caring manner. I love nursing more now than I did when I was in school, or more than I thought I ever could. Nursing gets harder, but it also gets better as you move forward!