Karen Lundberg: Defining Optimism and Hope

KarenLundbergAs Karen Lundberg’s children were reaching adulthood, the part-time nurse wondered how she would fill the extra time on her hands after their departure. The answer arrived at the outpatient clinic where she worked in the form of a retired BYU College of Nursing faculty member who had once taught and mentored Lundberg. As she administered to her former professor, Lundberg expressed her gratitude. “You had a tremendous effect on my life,” she said. “I now know what I want to do. I want to teach.”

Following this experience Lundberg returned to school at the University of Utah, where she finished her bachelor’s degree in nursing. She then continued her education by earning a master of science in nursing with an emphasis in nursing education, her thesis addressing nursing-student confidence—an area she still researches today.

Her recent study examined optimism, hassle levels, health, and stability of those attributes of nursing students during their second semester of nursing school. She plans further research to understand optimism and its role in adaptation in more diverse groups of student nurses throughout nursing school and as they transition to professional roles.

Lundberg (AS ’79), MS, RN, CNE, is an associate teaching professor and has taught at BYU for eight years, always going the extra mile for her students, coworkers, and family.

She codirects the refugee section of the clinical practicum for Public and Global Health Nursing with Debra Edmunds (BS ’03). The responsibility she feels for her students’ education motivated her to attend a refugee- and migrant-health class in order to create a richer experience for her session. There she learned about cultural, social, and organizational aspects of health and disease prevention, in addition to the challenges and potential solutions of resettlement. She also plans to take students with her and Edmunds to present at the North American Refugee Conference in Toronto this June.

“I understand what an incredible opportunity I have to teach BYU undergraduate students,” she says. “I know my students come to the table with wonderful ideas, characteristics, goals, and traits. I’m trying to be as good as they are. I’m trying to match my students.”

Lundberg’s dedication to training her students for careers in nursing was recently strengthened when a family member fell seriously ill.

To relieve those who had stayed near the sick family member’s bedside, Lundberg offered to stay a night at the hospital. She brushed her teeth and got into her bed, thinking about her family member’s condition. Interrupting her thoughts were the voices of nurses outside her door. Lundberg recognized the voices as former nursing students of hers.

“In an interesting turn of events, I was now the one asking for excellent care for my loved one, and I wondered if I had taught them everything,” Lundberg says.

New faculty members see Lundberg as a maternal figure who is always willing to help in any way that she can.

“New faculty are so awesome and so incredible,” Lundberg says. “Each of them has such incredible things to offer, and I do not want to lose them. I want to encourage them. I’m blown away by the caliber of people that surround me.”

In addition to presenting at various conferences this summer, Lundberg is excited to welcome her fifth and sixth grandchildren (twins) into the family.

Published by BYU Nursing

Guided by the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we exemplify the Healer’s art by: leading with faith and integrity; advancing the science of nursing and healthcare; promoting health and wellness; alleviating suffering; and serving individuals, families, and communities. The mission of the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University is to learn the Healer’s art and go forth to serve.

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