SARAH ALANDER: Shoes for All Walks of Life - Part V

May 06, 2021

SARAH ALANDER: Shoes for All Walks of Life - Part V



HERE'S TO STRONG WOMEN.
MAY WE KNOW THEM.
MAY WE BE THEM.
MAY WE RAISE THEM.
-  Michelle Obama
 
We all know people who seem to be able do it all, and for Part V of our "Shoes for All Walks of Life" you are about to meet one of them! Sarah Alander is someone who brings energy, positivity and a feeling of happiness to everything she does - and she does a lot! Her true joie de vivre radiates throughout every aspect of her life. She personifies Michelle Obama's message - in that she is a strong woman, she has raised a strong woman, and she is certainly a delightful strong woman to know! (She has also raised a strong son, Max!)

Sarah and her family moved to town and her children entered the same small Catholic grade school where my children were attending. Immediately Sarah jumped in to be part of the school community. I'll never forget that her daughter, Genna (in 8th grade) had made this darling belt. It was brightly colored and had beads and shells woven in with it. I complimented her on the unique styling, and the next thing I knew, she had made one and gifted it to me! Looking back now, I realize that this was an example set forth by her mother, and it was ingrained in Genna at a very early age!

For the almost 20 years that we have known each other, Sarah has done some really amazing things as a pediatric physician, but equally impressive are her unique hobbies, which she will share with us below.

On a recent trip to St. Louis, I was able to spend time with Sarah, her daughter, Genna, and her granddaughter, Rosemary. This story is about Sarah, but I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to capture the loving connection between the 3-generations - just in time for Mother's Day!

So, please take the next few minutes to enjoy reading about my dear friend, Sarah Alander!

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER AS A DOCTOR?

Not really sure - always seemed more like a calling, it wasn’t something I chose.  When I was about 14, my grandmother was visiting at Christmas and I remember  a very casual conversation where she asked what I was going to be when I grew up. It was the first time I said that I was going to be a doctor- my family laughed and reminded me that I’d have to be good at math and science- and at the time I was more into art and music.

SINCE I’VE KNOWN YOU, YOUR CONCENTRATION HAS BEEN PEDIATRICS? HAS THIS ALWAYS BEEN YOUR AREA OF FOCUS?

I started as a general pediatrician in Grand Rapids, Michigan, just down the road from where I grew up in East Lansing. Loved it and thought that was all I ever wanted to do. However, my career has sort of woven in and out of my husband’s more academic spine surgery career- we moved to Springfield, Illinois for a few years where I worked at SIU [Southern Illinois University] and then spent 10 years in Kansas City, Missouri, where I went back and trained in pediatric emergency medicine and clinical pharmacology. We came to St. Louis for him to work at SLU [St. Louis University] and I spent another 10+ years working in the pediatric ED at Mercy. 

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND, DIRK, TOOK POSITIONS WORKING IN A REMOTE AREA OF PENNSYLVANIA. TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING THERE AND WHAT A TYPICAL DAY IS LIKE FOR YOU?

Dirk moved to central Pennsylvania to lead up the quality and safety program for orthopaedics at Geisinger Health System. I followed him to start a pediatric emergency medicine program. We have a 90+ bed children’s hospital within a 600 bed hospital nestled in the mountains of rural central PA. I am responsible for the pediatric emergency portion of the 9 small hospitals that the system serves, covering 43 counties. I see patients in our main hospital from 3-midnight, have developed an outreach telemedicine program with our other emergency departments, develop pediatric treatment protocols for our hospitals, and collaborate with a national simulation program where we use life-like mannequins to practice treating emergencies with our nursing and physician teams. 

Thanks to COVID, I spend more time doing zoom meetings- sometimes while I’m walking my dog on the numerous trails around our hospital!- and less time driving to the hospitals for face-to-face meetings.

Please take a minute to watch this short video that was produced about the incredible work Sarah has done with Geisinger Medical Center - Pediatric Emergency Zone:  https://vimeo.com/461910845/71c3eb84e5


WITH ALL THE TIME YOU SPEND WORKING, I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU HAVE TIME FOR ALL THE EXTRA ACTIVITIES YOU DO, BUT PLEASE SHARE WITH EVERYONE A FEW OF YOUR VAST INTERESTS!

A lot of my hobbies are on hold until retirement, I’m afraid. My bees in St. Louis are now in “foster care” and I’ve relegated the (fairly large) garden upkeep at my St. Louis house to my kids.

Sarah Alander, tending to her bees

Sarah, tending to her bees.

I don’t really have time to preserve food and cook like I used to. I discovered biking a few years ago and did RAGBRAI [Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa] twice- biking in the mountains of PA is a lot harder though!

Sarah Alanader - crossing a bridge during RAGBRAI

Cycling across a bridge in PA.

At the beginning of lockdown one of my nurses was distraught about how she was going to have a wedding. I had made a few decorations for my own daughter’s wedding in 2018 and offered to make some paper flowers for her- I’d seen them on Pinterest and although I’d never done that, it didn’t seem impossible- to date I’ve made crepe paper flowers for 6 weddings- keeps my hands busy during all those Zoom meetings!

Sarah Alander's handmade paper flowersSarah's handmade paper flowers - YES, those are paper! 

 
I RECALL A FEW YEARS AGO WHEN YOU SUFFERED A PRETTY MAJOR FOOT AND/OR ANKLE INJURY/ PROBLEM. SINCE RECOVERING FROM THIS, HOW HAVE YOUR SHOE WANTS/NEEDS HAVE CHANGED?


Ugh. I had a freak little fall accident in 2016 that resulted in a broken foot and leg. It took more than a year to recover! After casting and splinting was over, I spent several months unable to put on anything other than a squishy, very unattractive slipper-like shoe. My foot changed a whole size and I had an entire wardrobe of shoes to replace! Many styles are still not options for me, but fortunately I mostly wear scrubs and sneakers at work!
 

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE WALKING CRADLES SHOES YOU ARE WEARING IN THESE PHOTOS? 

I already knew I liked the Walking Cradles insoles, which let me be comfortably up and down on my feet for LONG days. I am sure I’ll get compliments on my new ones!

 Sarah AlanderSarah Alander with granddaughter

Dr. Sarah wearing the Destin in Black Nubuck - and showing her granddaughter how to use a stethoscope! 

 

WHAT IS A MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH EVERYONE?

2020 brought a storm that had unique challenges for each of us- loss of friends and family, isolation from our social lives, economic loss, education put on hold, mental health crises and for some people, all of those. There are times that have been so discouraging for me, but it has also been an opportunity to dig deep and reexamine faith, priorities, and figure out how and what to be truly grateful for. My hope is that we can all support each other in our journeys of walking through this challenging time in history. 

 Three generations

Three generations of strong women!
Sarah is wearing the Penelope in Metallic Multi, and Genna is wearing
the Pool in White and Silver.

Sarah Alander and daughter, Genna
...

We are very grateful to Sarah (Genna and Rosemary, too) for being part of “Shoes for All Walks of Life.” Thank you for joining us to learn more about the women who wear Walking Cradles and their multi-faceted lives. We will feature a different fabulous female each month and we hope you look forward to reading their stories as much as we enjoy working with them. Although, is it really work when you love what you do so much and get to spend time with such amazing people?!

Until next time...

XO,

Lisa




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