Former Monmouth University player Sarah (Van Curen) Whelan was a member of the Monmouth women’s soccer program from 2003-06. The Marlboro, N.J. native graduated in 2007 with a degree in biology. She works as a Maternal Child Float Pool Nurse at Abington Jefferson Hospital, in Abington, Pa. and is married with three young daughters.
The Monmouth sports communications department did a question and answer with Whelan and shared it with FrontRowSoccer.com.
After graduating from Monmouth, where did you complete your nursing education and what led you to where you are now?
I graduated from Monmouth in 2007 with a BS in Biology and attended Ocean County College for my nursing degree. I then went to Thomas Edison to earn my BSN. I knew by my junior year that I wanted to be a nurse but, at the time, Monmouth only offered a graduate nursing program. After many meetings with nursing advisers, I decided to finish my BS and go an alternative route into nursing. I initially worked at a doctor’s office that specialized in Alzheimer’s while pursuing my BSN. I then landed my dream job as a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I worked there for three years before leaving for my current job as a Maternal Child Float Pool nurse at Abington Jefferson Hospital, which basically means I get work with babies in the NICU, Labor and Delivery, and Post-Partum as well as pediatric patients. I have been a nurse for 10 years and am certified as a NICU specialist.
How did your career at Monmouth, playing for Coach Turner and your experience as a student prepare you for life as a nurse?
My soccer career did not go quite as I had planned. I tore my meniscus on the first day of preseason my freshman year and had knee surgery twice that year (my 4th and 5th the knee surgeries). I spent most of my time rehabbing, but always felt included as a team member. While my experience was not what I had envisioned, I was able to step on the field in a Monmouth jersey and have many fond memories of my time at Monmouth. Being a biology major and student-athlete, time management and prioritization were vital and I have carried those skills into my current career. Soccer and nursing both require teamwork and the ability to support those around you (teammates, coworkers, or patients).
What are some of the challenges you are facing right now as a nurse and/or how have things changed for you over the last month or so?
Since March, the world of healthcare has been quite challenging. The daily use of PPE has been a big adjustment as have the policy changes that occur daily or even hourly. I am not facing the daily exposure risks that my fellow nurses who work on COVID units are facing, but every time I enter the hospital I know that any patient I come in contact with or even my fellow coworkers could possibly be a carrier. The hospital is high anxiety and we feel the sadness and fear on every unit, in the lower risk units. The past two months have been difficult, but it is harder not knowing when this will end, when it will feel safe to go to work again.
Do you have any advice for people in terms of following CDC guidelines, staying inside, following the news?
Please stay home. I know it is hard and we all miss our families and friends, but if we do this right the first time we may miss the second (or even third) wave that are currently predicted. Currently, there is no cure and no definitive treatment, it is a scary time and the best way to stay safe is to stay home. Enjoy walks or being outside (in socially distanced ways). Do what you think is right for yourself and your family.