Student Profile: Charlie Olson ‘13

Charlie OlsonCharlie Olson ‘13

Quality Safety Analyst at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

At Augsburg:

  • Biopsychology Major
  • AugSTEM Scholar
  • McNair Researcher
  • Auggie Guide Coordinator
  • Welcome Desk Attendant
  • Admissions Tour Guide
  • Ultimate Frisbee Team Captain

What brought you to Augsburg?
The moment I stepped on campus, I felt like I fit in. While I was deciding which college I wanted to attend, I scheduled an overnight visit and had an opportunity to sit in on classes and meet professors in the Biology department. Overall, I had a great admissions experience. I preferred Augsburg’s small class sizes and heard that the college had strong science programs.

What advice would you give to yourself as a first year student?
Get involved with clubs on campus, even if the activity is outside of your major. You will need some form of respite during your college years. You can’t do all science, all of the time–“Don’t be like Joe Buchman” (One of Charlie’s best friends). Get involved and have a good time. Avoid burnout and start exercising.

What do you value most about Augsburg?
The faculty. I really appreciate how much they care about students and how transparent this caring is. I have always gotten the vibe that Augsburg professors are here for the students. They want you to succeed.

What Augsburg experiences best prepared you for your current job?
I would have to say that my liberal arts education best prepared me for my job at Children’s Hospital. My interviewer commented on how my background provided me with a different outlook than many of the physicians and nurses I would be working with. Attending Augsburg provided me with the opportunity to develop this unique critical lens.

From your experiences, what advice would you give a student applying to graduate school?
Start on your application as early as possible! Also, know that it’s going to be a long, strenuous process. At the end of a full summer of research, you may feel like you need a break, but understand that applying for graduate school is a full-time job. You won’t have much time to work on your application once classes begin. Don’t be afraid to ask for help throughout the process. Ask your professors to help if they’re able and have as many people as possible read your personal statement. Looking back, I wish I would have had more time to do research as an undergraduate. If possible, do research on campus during your sophomore year. Then you can spend the summer after your junior year doing an REU (research experience for undergraduates) off campus and preparing your graduate school applications.

What’s next for you?
I’m using this year at Children’s Hospital to gain experience and determine which career path I would like to take. Currently, I’m thinking about medical or PA school. Now that I’m working in the hospital, I’ve realized just how much medicine interests me. Otherwise, if I were not to attend medical or PA school, I’m also interested in going to graduate school for Clinical Psychology or Neuropsychology.

Where do you see yourself working in the future?
I see myself working with patients on a daily basis, whether that is as a clinical psychologist or as a physician. I enjoy being in a high energy, fast paced environment like the hospital and working on a variety of tasks each day.

Do you often get attached to your patients?
I more often get attached to their files since I am not always in direct contact with the patient. I always hope to see progress each time I check-in. More specifically, I am close with the family of one young patient who insists on calling me “Dr. Charlie”.

How did you prepare for your interview at Children’s?
I had practice interviews with Dixie Shafer in the URGO office and went to the Strommen Center for help crafting my resume. During the interview I was very confident in my ability to handle difficult situations in a healthcare setting, yet I felt very underqualified. Later, my interviewers told me that my liberal arts background and unique experience gives me a perspective that differs from many of my coworkers and that is why I had a successful interview.

What is your typical day like?
Around 6:30 a.m. I arrive in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and talk with all of the night bedside nurses. I ask questions about their quality and safety concerns overnight. (What happened? How severe was the incident? How did it prevent quality care from happening?) After speaking with all of the nurses, I log these cases into a computer program for tracking. Then, I go through charts and look over patient medications and statistics. I also fill out a daily form for each patient which verifies the medication and medical devices a patient has and what he or she needs for the day. During the rest of the day I have meetings with hospital staff outside of the PICU and work on projects aimed at changing procedure and streamlining tasks and communication.

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Contact Charlie at charlie.olson57@gmail.com