Allen College

Sarah McCarthy-Dougherty, MS, APRN, CNP
Allen College Class of 2000

Employment history

House Officer and Hospitalist Nurse Practitioner, Fairview Southdale Hospital, Edina, Minnesota. In my House Officer role, I am the provider responder to rapid response teams, code blue, and behavioral health emergencies. It is the best job I can think of and truly the reason I went back for my advanced degree.

As a staff nurse, I worked in several intensive care units and emergency departments. I enjoyed branching out as an Administrative Supervisor. I taught American Heart Association classes for several years.

What was your first job out of nursing school?

ICU RN at Sartori Memorial Hospital, Cedar Falls, Iowa

How did Allen College help prepare you for where you are now?

I remember many professors sharing their experiences with us. Each of their stories came with solid advice: if you are going to make a mistake you have to learn from the mistake. After almost 19 years of nursing I have accumulated some of my own experiences and I have learned from each and every situation. I have learned sometimes the best lessons come during the hardest situations.

What led you to your exact career path?

During my undergraduate studies I found a love for intensive care. After spending a few years in Iowa at Sartori and Covenant Medical Center, I relocated to Minneapolis and took a job in a Cardiovascular ICU recovering open heart surgical patients. I idolized several members of the critical care response team and they eventually hired me! It was an amazing job full of RRTs, codes, trauma, and taking care of the sickest patients every shift. I looked into Acute Care NP programs, but all were out of state. After two babies and a divorce, I found the AG-ACNP program at Georgetown. After graduation I worked with two vascular surgery groups and loved that surgical population. During the summer of 2017, Fairview Southdale implemented an Advance Practice run House Officer service. I jumped at the chance to practice as a provider in my most favorite job as a nurse. In this role it is a daily privilege to not only take care of some of our sickest patients, but have a positive impact on my physician colleagues, nurses, and families.

Any accomplishments, awards, or proud moments?

In 2015, I graduated with honors with a Master of Science, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. I am currently working on my Doctorate at the University of Minnesota and expect to graduate in 2020. 

Hobbies and Interests

My husband, Ryan, and I love working out together. We life weights and kickbox regularly. Together we have four children who keep us occupied with basketball, volleyball, karate, dance, and swimming. We love to travel and highly value our down-time together.

What piece of advice would you give to current Allen students?

I have several:

  1. Ask ALL the dumb questions. Literally, ask them all.
  2. Own your mistakes and learn from them. They are the best lessons.
  3. Never stop learning.
  4. Find your passion in nursing. Nursing is hard and I cannot imagine practicing outside of my passion.
  5. Practice self-care daily. Figure out what self-care means to you and do it every single day.
  6. If you intend to obtain an advanced degree, do not wait.