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ER nurse named Sanford Worthington Employee of the Year

Julie Schoborg, of Windom, has marked 30-year career in nursing at Worthington hospital.

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WORTHINGTON — A bit of sneakiness and a hint of trickery were used to lure emergency room nurse Julie Schoborg to the Sanford Worthington Medical Center cafeteria on a recent June afternoon. She’d been having a bad day, and when her manager invited her for a cup of coffee, she was all too willing to go.

When they arrived, however, she discovered it was the hospital’s annual Employee of the Year gathering.

“I thought, ugh, I have to do this,” recalled Schoborg. “Then they started talking (about the recipient) and I thought, ‘That sounds like a nice person — I’m probably going to like this person.’”

After all, what was said by that point could have referred to any one of the many Sanford Worthington employees.

As the description continued though — a mention of this person helping out a sister, and working in the ER — Schoborg realized it was she who was being honored.

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“I did a big, ugly cry,” she said with a laugh. “I’m a crier.”

To add to the overwhelming feeling, Schoborg discovered that all three of her children were elsewhere in the room, as well as her parents, her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren. Even a nephew who was visiting from Oklahoma joined in the surprise.

“I am still struggling believing it,” Schoborg said last week. “Really, there are so many people here that are fabulous. It was very special — I was very surprised.”

Retired Sanford nurse Pat Van Waus presented Schoborg with the tiara she’d received when she earned the same honor in 2019. She also received a gift certificate and a bouquet of flowers.

“It’s hard wearing that tiara,” Schoborg said. “I have to try to live up to that somehow.”

Schoborg, of rural Slayton, has worked in some aspect of nursing since she was 15 years old and took a health information class at Slayton High School. She worked at the Slayton Manor all through high school as a nursing assistant, and later took nursing courses at Minnesota West Community & Technical College in Worthington. She completed her nursing degree through the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

“They had a good program that really fit my needs because I had a family,” she said, noting she had to drive to the campus once a week for class, with clinicals the other days.

Schoborg began working at Sanford Worthington while she was a graduate nurse and, once she passed her state boards and earned her degree as a registered nurse, she remained at the local hospital. She spent her first year in the medical-surgical unit and then transitioned to the intensive care unit before moving into the role of emergency room nurse years ago.

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“I always thought I would end up in the emergency room,” Schoborg said. “I think we’re all a little bit of adrenaline junkies to some degree. I love that kind of work — the unexpectedness of it. You can go from zero to 60 in a matter of moments.”

In the ER, Schoborg said she sees everything from a little cut on a finger to patients with strokes and heart attacks, as well as accident victims and those suffering numerous other ailments.

Once an overnight shift worker, on the job from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Schoborg quit that schedule about a year ago.

Having reached her 30th anniversary as a registered nurse, she is a senior member of the nursing team, and fondly refers to her coworkers as kids.

“One nurse is 10 years younger than me; the rest are my children’s ages,” she said. “I said when I start working with kids my grandchildren’s age, I’m going to have to quit.”

With that many years' experience comes a lot of knowledge that Schoborg can impart on her coworkers.

No one, though, could have been prepared for what they saw during the early days of the global pandemic that reached southwest Minnesota in early 2020.

Schoborg said the hardest part of her job was trying to figure out how to keep everybody safe. She credits a lot of teamwork, and is proud of the work they do every day.

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“We have such good relationships with our doctors and our team,” she said. “We see some tough stuff. You grow together and get through it together.”

Outside of work, Schoborg keeps busy with her garden and thoroughly enjoys her shelter dog, Neptune, whom she adopted a year ago.

“He’s my entertainment,” she said.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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