GUNNISON—After a lifetime of challenges, Claudia Sanborn of Gunnison tackled yet another challenge by writing and publishing a book about her experiences in the nursing profession.
Her book chronicles experiences dealing with abusive administrators and difficult co-workers, and the illegal and discriminatory practices she encountered during her 25-year-plus career.
Sanborn was raised in the Salt Lake Valley. She is a direct descendant of Hyrum Smith and claims direct kinship to Pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower. She says that she attends a “Descendants-of-the-Mayflower” banquet every six months and has created a Mayflower theme in her Gunnis on home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
She says that she didn’t set out to become a nurse, but while attending BYU after high school, she took some nursing prerequisite courses not leading to a degree. Then her life took another direction. She married, had four children and says she felt content to be a stay-at-home mom for the rest of her life.
In 1980, her husband was transferred from Salt Lake to Southern California. She continued to take the occasional nursing class there, mostly for her own enrichment, until one day her husband announced he no longer loved her and walked out the door.
Claudia was bereft. She had never worked outside the home. Suddenly she was faced with four kids, no financial support and the urgent need to complete her nursing education.
She says she became a nurse by sheer force of will. She recalls carrying hundreds of flash cards in baggies and reading them everywhere she went. She recorded lectures on an old-fashioned tape recorder and memorized anatomy into the early morning hours while her children slept. She became a registered nurse at 46.
She worked for major hospitals in Orange County, California, before deciding to move back to Utah. She found a job at Gunnison Valley Hospital. Her sister had just purchased a histor ic home in Manti, and she decided she wanted to do the same. She bought a run-down house in Gunnison, went back to California to fetch her family, packed her whole life in a U-Haul trailer and moved.
She says the day she reported for work at Gunnison, the supervisor placed her on probation and changed the conditions under which she had been hired.
“I guess they figured that my U-Haul trailer meant they had me and they could do anything they wanted,” she says.
They were wrong. She got the job she had held in California back and spent the next several months commuting between Gunnison and California. She eventually found a position at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Rather than leaving her beloved Gunnison historic home, she commuted to St. Mark’s for more than seven years.
She got married again. And tiring of the long commute, Claudia discovered travel nursing. As a traveling nurse, she could fill temporary slots for absent nurses, including union nurses who were on strike. Her job took her up and down the West Coast and as far away as Washington, D.C.
She said she saw everything from gunshot wounds to nearly every exotic disease one could imagine. She enjoyed the variety and being in control of her own schedule for the first time in her professional life.
As her career drew to a close, she vowed to turn the copious journals she’d kept over the years into a book, and she did.
Published in 2016, the book is titled “The Yellow Sick Road.” It is an unvarnished look at the dark underbelly of the nursing profession.
As a result of the book, Sanborn has been invited to lecture for nursing associations and to teach new nursing students the pitfalls that can accompany their bright hopes for the profession.
Now retired, Sanborn lives a quieter life in Gunnison with her husband of many years. She is an avid horsewoman and is heavily involved in projects her LDS ward.
“I don’t know what I would have done without the Church,” she says, “especially in those early years when they were the only ones there for me.”
The Sanborn’s were recently awarded grants to fix up their historic home and are in the middle of completing those projects. Claudia is available for personal appearances, and her book is available on Amazon.