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Jana Gegen selected as Metropolitan State University outstanding student

Jana Gegen formerly of Hastings, now residing in Prescott, whose kidney transplant sparked a renewed appreciation for life and how nurses can positively affect patients has been selected a spring semester outstanding, was chosen outstanding undergraduate student in the university’s School of Nursing.

She was one of 986 bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate students receiving degrees at Metropolitan State’s 96th commencement on May 4 in Saint Paul.

“This has been an incredible transformational journey for me,” says Gegen, 47, a registered nurse. “Completing this education is truly a privilege. My path to getting this degree has been long with some challenges along the way.”

Gegen was on dialysis and seriously ill when she received a kidney from a deceased donor on Aug. 5, 2013. She will likely take medications and IV infusions the rest of her life, but she’s not complaining.

“I kind of have a new life, so I view everything now as a privilege and a blessing,” says the 21-year nurse.

Gegen, who worked Augustana Health Care Center and Regina Hospital in Hastings, says her experience as a patient supplied her with valuable insights.

“It helped me understand what it’s like to be on the other side, because I’ve had numerous hospitalizations,” she says. “It gave me a new appreciation for the importance of a nurse to be present and really attentive to clients. I think that is driving my passion for making changes at an organizational level should the opportunity arise.”

In particular, Gegen believes in evidence-based research driving improvements in the nursing profession. She also says nurses should have more say in health care, because they are closest to the patients.

“As nurses, we see, feel and know what’s going on with patients,” says Gegen, who strongly subscribes to holistic health practices emphasized at Metropolitan State. “Giving us more of a role could make a huge change in health care improvements.”

Gegen—who volunteers at the Saint Croix Valley Restorative Justice program—earned an associate of science in nursing in 2006 from Excelsior College, New York. She became a licensed practical nurse in 1993 after attending Dakota County Technical College, Rosemount. Gegen has been accepted into Metropolitan State’s doctorate of nursing practice program.