Student Spotlight: Tara Flesner

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Tara Flesner

As a young child, Tara Flesner was inspired to pursue a nursing career after witnessing her mother’s example of passionate nursing care. Tara was amazed by her mother’s quiet strength, her ability to connect with people, and the infinite knowledge of the human body she was always ready to share with her daughter.

As a teenager, all she knew was that she wanted to help people. She began volunteering in infection control and prevention at Sequoia Hospital, where she was surprised by how many things could ail the human body. During college, she also volunteered in a small community clinic that focused on women’s and maternal health in a primarily Spanish-speaking population. Providing direct family-centered care in this specific clinic motivated Tara to work with populations who are disadvantaged by language barriers, chronic illness, and socioeconomic status.

Tara became certified as a nursing assistant, gained experience through a home care agency, and then joined the Dignity Health team. For the past three years she’s been employed as a certified nursing assistant on an acute medical/surgical and orthopedics unit at Sequoia Hospital. 

Exposure to the hospital environment led Tara — now a student in the SF State Baccalaureate Nursing Program at Cañada College — to seek out and connect with professionals in the health care field. As an outgrowth of this, she founded the SF State/ Cañada Program’s Pre-nursing Club in order to unite students with this same goal. Tara’s cohort elected her their Student Nursing Association president for 2016-2017. In this capacity, she acts as a liaison between faculty and students, helps to plan and facilitate the spring Pinning Ceremony and creates a supportive community within her tight-knit cohort of 33 students. Her greatest challenge in nursing school has been finding a work-life-study balance, but she notes that when she makes time to practice self-care, she is able to serve her classmates, patients and community to the best of her ability.

Tara is taking Spanish courses in addition to her nursing studies so she can become fluent and help communicate with patients who experience language barriers while they receive medical care. Her next step is to earn a Bilingual and Bi-Literate Certification, which will allow her to advocate for patients’ rights, thereby ensuring both the patients’ and their families’ general well-being through explaining procedures, promoting health care education, spreading infection prevention awareness, and instilling an enriched, culturally diverse environment.

Her newest passion is exploring health care on a global scale. In the summer of 2015, Tara traveled to Costa Rica with a volunteer health care program, working with an urgent care clinic and private-duty ambulatory service. There she witnessed a truly exemplary model of family-centered care. The trip enabled her to step outside her comfort zone and explore a new culture while enriching the community by providing compassionate, quality health care on a local level.

After graduating this May, Tara plans to work in the public health sector. Becoming involved in community health will prepare her to enter a field in which she can assist people from all walks of life across different populations.

Update: Tara was named Undergraduate Honoree for the Class of 2017 and was honored at the Undergraduate Honors Convocation on May 24, 2017. Read about it here.