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Mother, child share more than genes

Love of nursing, shared experience feeds connection

Although they may be split by location, two Mayo Clinic Health System nurses in Albert Lea and Austin are not separated by much else.

Kirsten Meyer has been a nurse for 35 years, now working as a case management nurse at Austin’s campus. Her daughter, Nicole Knudson, became a nurse 16 years ago and works in Albert Lea as a clinical care supervisor for the medical-surgical floor. Both live near Northwood.

Although they have other nurses in their family, Knudson said her path into nursing came largely from seeing her mother’s dedication to the job.

“As far back as I can remember, I was inspired to follow in my mom’s footsteps because of the compassion she had always shown towards caring for others by being a nurse,” she said.

Knudson, too, enjoys caring for people, and she said she likes that nursing provides many different avenues for exploration. Knudson and Meyer themselves have very different roles. But although they work together infrequently, Meyer said their shared connection influences their relationship by giving them common ground.

“That’s really grounded our relationship,” she said.

Occasionally, when Meyer floats to Albert Lea, she and Knudson will sit in on the same meeting, and through their jobs they interact with some of the same people.

“It’s so good to hear the positive — ‘Oh, we think so much of her,’” Meyer said.

Meyer said their relationship offers another connection between the campuses at Albert Lea and Austin.

Meyer has two other daughters, one who works in banking as a commercial lender and another who is a dental hygienist. She was shocked Knudson went into nursing, largely because Meyer knows what she missed when she went off to work long or undesirable hours.

Knudson said she remembers seeing her mom head off to work, and at the time, it made her sad. That’s different now.

“Looking back, I don’t have any bad memories of that,” she said. Instead, it was a marker of her mom’s compassion, and how much she loved her job. And now, Knudson has Meyer to help step in to help care for her kids when Knudson has to work those hours.

For Meyer, that example of compassion came from one rung higher on the family ladder: her father, pastor Al Stoa.

“I saw his passion for people and wanted that,” Meyer said.. She thought about ministry herself, but wasn’t sure it would be a good fit for her.

“One day, my dad said to me, ‘You know, you can affect a lot of people just as a nurse,’” Meyer said.

One rung down, Meyer said she sees a lot of her own work ethic in Knudson.

“And it drives me, because I see that in my mom,” Knudson added.

The hard part sometimes is leaving that work at work, she said.

“We are famous at family gatherings for … talking about nursing stuff,” Meyer said.

Still, having the same career field means the one can come home from a day’s demands, frustrations and stressful days and the other will know what that’s like.

“I can go home and my mom … we look at each other, and we just get it,” Knudson said.

They can pick each other up, bounce back, and go on to doing what they both say they love: caring for their patients.

“I have been blessed in my nursing career,” Meyer said. “I have been able to love on others in their most vulnerable times in their lives.”

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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