Nursing alumna continues to educate FM community

Allyson Hopperstad

MSUM nursing alumna, Allyson Hopperstad, graduated in 2009 from the university’s RN to BSN program and later returned to MSUM to work on her master’s degree. Allyson has been in the nursing field for over 15 years in various roles.

Allyson originally came to MSUM in 2003, looking to study pre-med. After receiving her LPN and RN licenses elsewhere, she came back to MSUM to further her nursing education. In her time at MSUM, she appreciated the variety of faculty backgrounds, flexible study time, and the support she received.

“What really made me stay [at MSUM] was the amazing professors,” she said. “They have a very collaborative nature. I continued my education after MSUM, and one of the professors was my mentor in the leadership academy as I was getting my doctorate.”

Allyson works in the RN to BSN program at Rasmussen College, where she applies her expertise and background in the leadership course, among other curriculum work. Because of her involvement and history in nursing education, she is passionate about lifelong learning and sees the new BSN program at MSUM as meeting a community need.

“There’s solid data from the AACN [American Association of Critical Care Nurses] indicating that higher nursing education makes a major difference in clinical outcomes,” Allyson explained. “So, [MSUM is] not just being responsive to our community but being responsive to our patients and those we serve.”

While studying at MSUM, Allyson experienced various sides of nursing, like public health and postnatal, where she remembers learning about holistic care firsthand. She also had the opportunity to travel to Huehuetenango, Guatemala, while working toward her master’s degree. The students ran the post-recovery unit, and Allyson and her mentor oversaw those students.

“I experienced a worldview that you can’t get from your little nook of the world,” Allyson said.

She appreciated how well she connected with her professors and that she was able to discover what she enjoyed in nursing. She realized she had a passion for leading and teaching others, but has other friends in many different areas of nursing.

“There isn’t one program for all students; there are different programs, and they each bring their own flare,” she said.

Allyson also co-leads the American Holistic Nurses Association Chapter for the Red River Valley with Alicia Swanson, program coordinator and associate professor in MSUM’s School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership. They provide opportunities for nurses and others to continue learning about nursing, specifically integrative and holistic healthcare. The push to learn more is important to Allyson and is reflected in her many nurse educator roles.

“That’s the thing I love about the nursing profession; it does not allow you to be stagnant,” she said.

Allyson recognizes the many hurdles nurses face but says the rewards are worth it.

She has this advice for nursing students:

“The most important thing I’ve learned in this profession is that intentional listening is the best gift you can give to those around you. Whether it’s your patients, your students or your loved ones, be fully present, listen and emit positive energy.”