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NDSU School of Nursing at Sanford Health faculty member receives teaching award

Photo of Sara Berger

Sara Berger

Sara Berger, assistant professor of nursing practice at NDSU School of Nursing at Sanford Health, has received the Mary J. Berg Award for Excellence in Teaching. She received the award at a ceremony held by the School of Nursing and NDSU College of Health Professions on April 15.

The award recognizes a faculty member who is an outstanding teacher, inspires and engages students in learning, demonstrates knowledge of pedagogical principles, and is creative and innovative in approaches to teaching.

A recent nursing student in their recommendation of Berger mentioned: “She shares her knowledge and expands learning through her innovative lectures, clinical guidance, and her involvement in student organizations.”

Berger, who is an expert in medical-surgical nursing and a Certified Nurse Educator, believes students are more committed to their learning if they are actively engaged in the learning process.

“My goal as a nurse educator is to assist nursing students in becoming not just competent, but also compassionate nurses,” said Berger. “The reason why I teach is to help students become the nurse they want to be, the nurse they want to work with and the nurse they want taking care of family members.”

Berger’s innovative teaching methods include having students create educational websites on course topics, integrating art and literature projects to understand holistic care, in-depth conversations, case studies, a mystery diagnosis project, clinical observations of students to assess program outcomes and more.

In writing on behalf of the nursing class of 2016, one nursing graduate mentioned Berger’s focus on patient-centered care. “She instilled a humble grace, confidence and integrity that will certainly set the nurses she taught up for success. These are the things that allow us to utilize our critical thinking skills, embrace healing touch, and communicate with patients and families in a patient-centered manner,” said the nursing graduate.

A nursing educator for more than 15 years, Berger attained credentials as a National League of Nursing Certified Nurse Educator and Medical-Surgical Nurse, American Nurses Credentialing Center. She has worked as a nurse case manager, as a nurse on medical or surgical floors and as a charge nurse before becoming a nurse educator in 2004. She was named a Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Teacher in Higher Education in 2014.

“Outstanding teachers such as Sara Berger have an impact throughout the careers of nursing graduates. Their commitment to innovative teaching methods greatly impact students and ultimately patients who receive care,” said Charles Peterson, dean of the NDSU College of Health Professions.

“Sara is an expert educator whose professional example inspires students and colleagues in all areas of academics and in life,” said Wendy Kopp, director of nursing at NDSU School of Nursing at Sanford Health. “She embodies the standards expected for a recipient of the esteemed Mary J. Berg Award for Excellence in Teaching award. The School of Nursing at Sanford Health appreciates having such an outstanding faculty member.”

“Sara Berger is a gifted teacher who inspires students and faculty colleagues on a daily basis. She is extremely knowledgeable, professional, and compassionate in everything she does. The School of Nursing considers her highly deserving of this prestigious award,” said Carla Gross, associate dean of nursing at NDSU.

The Mary J. Berg Award for Excellence in Teaching is based on the criteria of exceptional teaching philosophy and methodology, assessment of student learning, creativity and innovation in teaching, peer review of teaching and student letters of support showing evidence of teaching excellence.

The NDSU College of Health Professions recognition awards recognize faculty that achieve excellence. Faculty members nominate candidates. An awards committee comprised of faculty and student members recommends award recipients to the dean of the NDSU College of Health Professions. 

The NDSU School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions provides bachelor’s degree and graduate nursing education in Bismarck and in Fargo to advance knowledge of nursing, demonstrate leadership, and meet the needs of a diverse society. Programs are available for part- and full-time students, working professionals and those seeking online educational opportunities.

As a student-focused, land grant, research university, we serve our citizens.


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