Whether she is looking at their statistics or into their eyes, Robyn Fahlstrom is committed to people and keeping them healthy.
Fahlstrom is personally aware of the impacts from chronic disease, having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 2. She aimed her education at the problem, earning a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan. She went on toparticipate in significant studies, including an ongoing role in epilepsy research, but Fahlstrom found herself wanting more.
Robin Fahlstrom has been named to the All-Washington Academic Team. Fahlstrom carries a 3.81 GPA in the rigorous Nursing program at Shoreline Community College.
Since 1996, Washington’s community and technical college system has recognized the All-Washington Academic Team at an annual recognition ceremony. The members of the All-Washington Team are the state’s nominees to Phi Theta Kappa’s national All-USA Community College Academic Team, as well as the national Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team.
The All-Washington recognizes and honors up to two students from each community and technical college for their scholastic achievement and community and college service.
“My work has been in population-based research,” said Fahlstorm, 36. “But whenever I got out and did patient interviews, that was the part I really liked. I realized that I would feel more fulfilled providing direct patient care.”
With the support of her husband, three cats and a dog, they all moved to Seattle and Fahlstrom began looking for the next step toward fulfillment. She decided to take it in the nursing program at Shoreline Community College.
“I looked around,” Fahlstrom said. “Shoreline was clearly the best. I’ve found that decision was reinforced when we’re out in clinicals and tell the staff that we’re from Shoreline. They just kind of relax because they know that we’re well-trained.”
While Fahlstrom says her immediate goal is to become a registered nurse, she’s still got an eye on more schooling and an eventual Master’s in Nursing. “I’m not sure where or how that will happen, but the idea of more school is fine with me,” she said. “I love to learn.
As she is pursuing her nursing degree, Fahlstrom is still participating in public health research.
“I oversee data quality for an epilepsy research study at the University of California, San Francisco,” said Fahlstrom, who was nominated by her supervisor in the study for a performance award. “The goal of this study is to collect information and blood samples from over 2,000 people with epilepsy and identify genes associated with certain clinical characteristics”
Her experiences as a nursing student are impacting the research work, prompting her to gather more qualitative data from patients to go along with the yes-no responses. “I have discussed with my colleagues the possibility of future studies to analyze this free-response descriptive data,”Fahlstrom said. “The descriptions of personal experiences offered by participants will be valuable in further exploring the impact of epilepsy on quality of life.”
Fahlstrom said she likes research work, but realized that it just takes too long for a trend or other information that shows up in the data to make its way into practice. Her ultimate goal would be to combine her education and experiences in public health research and nursing to focus on caring for patients with chronic diseases.
Fahlstrom made sure that she got at least a little closer to nursing before making the jump. She volunteered at Swedish Hospital – Ballard, assisting staff in the Day Surgery Department with organizational and cleaning duties and transporting patients between departments. She was also a Pediatric Diabetes Support Group volunteer, helping with recreational and educational activities for children with type 1 diabetes and their families.
Still, the move from working with data about patients to working with the patients thmesleves wasn’t without concern for Fahlstrom.
“When I first went into a clinical situation, I wasn’t sure if I had the skills to make a difference” she said. “Then, I realized that just by being there, I was helping. The first time that happened was really powerful. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but I know this is what I want to do.”