Kirkwood High School student newspaper

photo courtesy of Bobbi Brinkman Photography

Where are they now: Erin Schneider

Profession: Pediatric surgical / cardiac nurse - Location: Salt Lake City, Utah - Class of 2000

Her patient has turned blue. She calls for help while she thinks about all of the possibilities as to why the child has stopped breathing. They have a tracheostomy, which is a tube that helps the patient breathe, yet something has clogged it. She and her colleagues remove the mucus that was blocking the young patient’s airway. While the child’s mother stood there watching doctors trying to save her child’s life, the whole ordeal only took about four minutes.

Now living in Salt Lake City, Erin Schneider, 2000 KHS graduate, works as a cardiac nurse at Primary Children’s Hospital.

“The best part [of my job] is the privilege of being able to care for other people’s babies and children during a very stressful time in their life,” Erin said.

While she always knew that she wanted to work with children, her job as a cardiac nurse deals with a lot of hardships that other professions do not have. Her job is to help children the best she can, but sometimes that is not enough.

“I had been taking care of this patient [whose heart was failing] for three days in a row.” Erin said. “[We spent the rest of their time at the hospital] playing cards, making sure they [had] their favorite things to drink, making sure they weren’t in pain. It was one of my hardest days because I knew [the patient] wasn’t going to make it through the night.”

Her job has not only made her appreciate her good health, but also fulfills her passion for caring for other people. Prior to working as a cardiac nurse in Salt Lake City, Erin lived in Denver working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in the behavioral health department.

She worked with patients before but she’s doing it in a way that’s very healing and aligns with her values,” Chelsie Monroe, nurse manager at Denver Health and Erin’s former boss, said. “I think she’s meant to be doing what she’s doing right now.”

Kris Schneider, Erin’s wife, said that her job is perfect for her because of her caring nature. However, because of that characteristic her job can also be hard at times.

I think the hardest part for her is when she puts herself in the parent’s shoes and imagines what they’re going through with what decisions they have to make for their children,” Kris said. “She puts other people before herself and it makes her really good at her job.”

While Erin’s personality helps her with being successful in her line of work, a motto she learned at KHS does too. Whenever Erin knows she has a hard day of work in front of her, or when she needs more encouragement, she thinks back to what journalism adviser H.L. Hall would say every morning.

He would come into class every morning and say ‘I’m alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic,’” Erin said. “In high school I thought it was silly, but it stuck with me. To work with kids you need to have a lot of enthusiasm. To be a nurse you need to be alert and awake. And when I worked in the emergency department, [I saw that] being alive is a gift.”

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