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Doctor goes to nursing school, gets scholarship

From left, Mayor Gregg Hull, Sandoval County Commission Chairman Dave Heil, President-elect of the Rio Rancho Sunrise Rotary Club Kathleen Homes Cates, President of the Rio Rancho Sunrise Rotary Richard Bruce, retired Associate Dean of UNM School for Nursing Susan Fox and Dr. Sarah Gorder recipient of $10,000, pose at the Rio Rancho Sunrise Rotary Club’s 11th annual DeGroot-Akins Scholarship Gala on Jan. 25. Courtesy photo.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A doctor of Oriental medicine is going to nursing school to unite Eastern medicine and Western medicine.

Five nursing students, who intend to work in Rio Rancho after their studies are complete, received scholarships at the Rio Rancho Sunrise Rotary Club’s 11th annual DeGroot-Akins Scholarship Gala on Jan. 25.

Dr. Sarah Gorder is a doctor of Oriental medicine and is attending Central New Mexico Community College for her nursing associate degree. She then intends to go to the University of New Mexico for her bachelor’s of nursing.

She wishes to bring her knowledge of Eastern medicine and Western medicine to Rio Rancho.

“I find, in order to really help patients and be the best doctor I can be, I wanted to learn more about Western medicine. So that was my purpose for going to nursing school and to eventually become a nurse practitioner,” Gorder said.

Rio Rancho Sunrise Rotary Club helped organize the first gala 11 years ago. With the help of the Schumann Foundation, this club has a focus on supporting the medical community in Rio Rancho, said Susan Fox, a member of the club and nurse of 48 years.

According to the New Mexico Health Care Workforce Committee 2019 Annual Report, there are about 17,000 registered nurses practicing in New Mexico.

The report assessed a national practitioner-to-population benchmark at 8.64 registered nurses per 1,000 people. According to the report, Sandoval County “severely falls below” this standard, with 6.1 registered nurses per 1,000 people.

Fox said Rio Rancho Sunrise Rotary Club has a focus on nursing because of that shortage.

“We get in contact with the financial aid officers of the different nursing schools who are accredited by the national nursing agencies,” Fox said. “So we know students who are going to these schools are getting the best kind of nursing education to bring to Rio Rancho.”

Gorder received $10,000, ensuring her schooling is paid for in full this year, with money left over for following years. She received $5,000 from the Rotary club and $5,000 from the Schumann Foundation.

“It was life-changing for me to have that affirmation that what I want to do is important and the community of Rio Rancho supports that. They have welcomed me here to practice that new area of medicine,” she said.

Gorder has done clinical trials at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center and said the nurses are amazing with their level of knowledge and pride in their work.

“It was an incredible experience to work with them,” she said.

Gorder has raised her two daughters in Rio Rancho.

“My husband videotaped the gala, and when my youngest daughter saw the video, I was going up on stage, and she told me, ‘Mom, I feel like a proud parent,'” Gorder said.

She said her daughters have watched her pursue education.

“For my daughters, they know that my pursuit in medicine is my purpose. It is to heal others with medicine,” she said. “I have spent many years in Oriental medicine school while they were little. Then going into nursing, they have seen it can be challenging to pursue your dreams and have a family; there is so much in life to juggle. There are days when you are tired and overwhelmed and you just keep going.”

Her oldest daughter is following her mother in the medical field, studying public health at UNM.

Gorder has a message for all those considering nursing school.

“If you are considering nursing school but have an element of doubt, believe in yourself and do it anyway; take a chance,” she said. “If you believe in your heart that you have compassion and you believe that that is the direction that is best for you, then you should do whatever it takes to pursue it.”