Berger named state's Nurse Educator of the Year

Photo of Sara Berger

Sara Berger, assistant professor of practice in the NDSU School of Nursing at Sanford Health in Bismarck was named state Nurse Educator of the Year by the North Dakota Nursing Students’ Association during the group’s convention in January.

“My philosophies of nursing and teaching are rooted in my favorite quote from Mother Teresa, ‘Do small things with great love,’” said Berger. Her nearly 30-year career in healthcare has included success as a medical-surgical nurse, case manager, and nurse educator.

“I am committed to fostering student engagement in my classroom. I begin by building relationships. On the first day of class, I call each student by name, and ask why they chose nursing school. Understanding why students have chosen the profession helps me to adapt my lessons to highlight the reasons they are here,” said Berger.

“I appreciate the opportunity to role model competent, compassionate, holistic care in the clinical setting,” said Berger, who is also a Certified Nurse Educator and medical-surgical nurse.

Berger calls nursing the most rewarding profession.

“It is an honor and a privilege to care for people during the best, and most heartbreaking times. My goal as a nurse educator is to assist nursing students in becoming not just competent, but also compassionate nurses who are worthy of the title Registered Nurse.  The reason why I teach is to help students to become the nurse they want to be, the nurse they want to work with, and the nurse they want taking care of family members,” explained Berger.

Lindsey Unterseher, assistant professor of practice, had the opportunity to both learn and work with Berger, first as a student, and now as a colleague.

“Nearly 10 years later, I still reminisce on one of my favorite assignments of Sara's—a cartoon about the inflammatory process. Through this alternative approach, she stimulated us to engage our creativity while applying concepts to the human body,” said Unterseher.

Students notice Berger’s positivity and eagerness to nurture students. “She has the rare ability to inspire students to connect with their patients by encouraging them to add ‘tools’ to their toolbox,” said Unterseher. “She consistently encourages students to think about the holistic care of their patients and themselves.”

Now as a colleague, Unterseher explains that Berger’s leadership, knowledge, and expertise are sought by others. “Sara Berger is the embodiment of selfless devotion to the profession of nursing, teaching, and students,” said Unterseher.  

Berger is the sixth NDSU faculty member to receive the state Nurse Educator of the Year award. Previous faculty recipients in the NDSU School of Nursing include:  Trish Strom, Abigail Vetter, Kolby Schaeffer Fraase, Becky McDaniel, and Julie Ketterling.

Berger previously received the Mary J. Berg Award for Excellence in Teaching from the NDSU College of Health Professions in 2019, awarded to 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.

The NDSU School of Nursing provides bachelor’s and graduate nursing education at sites in Bismarck and Fargo, North Dakota. Programs are available for part- and full-time students, working professionals and those seeking online educational opportunities. 


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