A Simple Farm Girl Overcame Obstacles and Became a Leader in Her Field


Welcome to “Tuesday Tributes,” a series for lifting up people who have impacted our lives. They may be our teachers, neighbors, parents, friends, or mentors.

Each Tuesday I will share a story about someone who has inspired me, mentored me in the faith, or shaped my character. Then you can tell your stories in the comments about someone who has impacted you in a similar way.

Today’s tribute is about my mother. There is so much I could say about my mom and how she has inspired me, but I just got back from her retirement party and I want to pay tribute to her career in particular.

My mother, Sharol Herr, was a career nurse and retired in February after 39 years. Her career was full of dedication to patients, interdisciplinary collaboration, and mentoring others in her field. My mother overcame obstacles to her dream of becoming a hospice nurse and became a leader in the field of hospice and palliative care.

My mother chose nursing at a time when it was one of only a handful of options available to aspiring professional women. As the first in her family to pursue education beyond high school, mom left the family farm to attend Mount Carmel College of Nursing in Columbus, OH. She got a nursing license and began working in the Mount Carmel Health System.

When I was in grade school my mother began seriously investigating her dream of becoming a hospice nurse. She hit a roadblock though; her basic nursing license was not enough.* Even as a kid I empathized with how hard it was for her. She wanted to be a hospice nurse so badly, but she wasn’t allowed because she wasn’t qualified with the education she had.

She was faced with a choice; she could ignore her dream or she could go back to school. She followed her passion and returned to the classroom. She continued working and took classes as she was able. My favorite times were when I got to go to class with her because I got to see her learning important things to fulfill her dream.

Eventually she got her bachelor’s degree and had a little more waiting to do before she finally got to fulfill her dream of becoming a hospice nurse with Mount Carmel Hospice. This much of her story alone blows me away because of the obstacles she overcame to get to that point. She was a simple farm girl who finished college while raising two children and got into her dream specialty.

Eventually mom went back to school again to enrich her mind and she got a master’s degree in counseling. She remained working at Mount Carmel Hospice.

Then the field of hospice began to expand. Hospice is part of a broader philosophy called palliative care which emphasizes comfort rather than cure and patient and family education to help cope with illness. Hospice is reserved for patients with a terminal illness, but palliative care can be applied in other situations as well. When Mount Carmel Hospice embraced this broader philosophy they became Mount Carmel Hospice and Palliative Care.

Mount Carmel became one of the first hospitals in the country to offer palliative care more broadly and my mother was part of the interdisciplinary team that pioneered it. Not only that but Mount Carmel became one of six hospitals in the nation to teach other hospitals how to develop their palliative care programs. My mother has taught about palliative care around the country. She also helped teach at and administer the teaching program for Mount Carmel.

That simple farm girl blushes when I talk about her being a pioneer and leader in her field, but this is my blog and I’m calling it like I see it. I am so proud of my mom’s amazing career. She inspires me to keep reaching for my own dreams.

*I just spoke with my mom and she clarified that getting her bachelor’s degree was a “self-imposed” limitation. All the same her degree was a great accomplishment and was a great asset in her career.
For more information about palliative care, visit Get Palliative Care.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Angela on April 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Congratulations to your Mom, on pursuing and living her dream and on her well deserved retirement! Congrats,

  2. Posted by Sandra Callahan Guider on April 9, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to your Mother! She has always been a very special niece to us and often wore two hats…..that of nurse and that of family at the same time! I’m sure that wasn’t easy to do in many situations. Even now she is always there if our family needs her. I know you are very proud of her and I must say, your wonderful Grandparents would be “over the moon” as to what she has accomplished in her life. Although she retired from Mt Carmel Hospice, I feel she will still be involved in some way in helping her friends and family! I know she is very proud of her children and rightly so! You have written a very loving story….one your Mom will appreciate and hold dear!

  3. Posted by Sandy Bricker on April 10, 2013 at 5:40 am

    Congratulations on your retirement, Sharol. I’m sure you have touched MANY lives with God’s love when they were in need as the patient or family members as God called His children home.

  4. Posted by Sharol Herr on April 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Yes, I’m blushing! It just proves when God has a plan and we remain faithful he will accomplish amazing things–even when chemistry and micro biology are involved!
    Thanks dear and precious daughter!

    • Posted by Linda Bentley on May 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      You are one amazing woman, with a heart for God, family and career. Now that your career changes to learning dulcimer, wood craving and traveling with Dale, may it be full of wonderment, great adventures, love and joy.

  5. Posted by Sharon on April 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    What a nice tribute to Sharol. I am proud to say that I worked with her for almost 20years in hospice and palliative care, It was a privelege to have shared that experience of a lifetime of work with her. She became a trusted friend and collegue. Congratulations to Sharol on her retirement and her great contributions to hospice and palliative care.

  6. Posted by Cat on April 21, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Yep- My ma is one of those uber-cool inspiring mamas as well. She didn’t finish college as a young woman, but went to college when her youngest was in about fourth grade. She was happy when she was teaching in a kindergarten class, when she was told that she was being moved to preschool- which required her to get her masters within three years. And she did it. And she did well. I think motherhood can make us better life-long learners!

  7. What a great honor to be with people when they die.

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