College of Health and Human Performance

Sarah Schooler (BSHE ’11)

Founder of Thrive Lactation Center and lead lactation consultant

Sarah Schooler (BSHE ’11)

Describe your organization and what makes it interesting.
I am the founder of Thrive Lactation Center, a breastfeeding clinic that offers in-home and virtual breastfeeding education to families in Southwest Florida.

What are your responsibilities?
In addition to managing day to day business operations, I am the lead lactation consultant. In that role, I teach breastfeeding classes and lead lactation consults for families. I am incredibly passionate about giving babies the best start nutritionally by helping their mothers meet their personal breastfeeding goals.

What are you currently working on?
In addition to seeing patients, I am currently working on partnering with local obstetric physician offices to develop a breastfeeding support program for patients. The goal is to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates among their patient population through prenatal education sessions and individualized breastfeeding help.

What drew you to your career or industry?
I was drawn to the role of a lactation consultant while completing my internship requirement for the Bachelor’s in Health Education and Behavior program. I interned in the Lactation Department at UF Health Shand’s Hospital and really enjoyed assisting families in the vulnerable time after childbirth. I went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Nursing from UF and a Masters degree in Nursing from Jacksonville University. I combined my career as a nurse with the foundation of my studies in health education to improve the health of my community through lactation services.

What personal characteristics must a person have to succeed in a role like yours?
I have found that empathy and compassion are two key characteristics that allow me to make a strong trusting connection with her patients. These connections allow me to educate patients in a way that is specific to their cultural, family, and personal backgrounds.

How has your education in Health & Human Performance helped you with your career?
The things I learned while in the college of HHP gave me the foundational skills that I use every day to develop patient education for my breastfeeding patients.

If you could give your freshman self one piece of advice, what would it be? Why?
To the freshman just starting your studies in the health education and behavior program, take in every bit of knowledge you can. Every project and paper you complete is teaching you something you will use in the future. I use the basic education concepts taught in my freshman year daily of developing the breastfeeding classes and lactation consults I teach.

Where do you go for inspiration?
When I need inspiration, I turn to the families I have assisted. Since I have built a long-term connection with them on their breastfeeding journey they are more than willing to provide ideas on how to better help other families in the future. Their positive outcomes also fuel my desire to assist even more families in my local area.

Any additional comments?
I read many lactation journals to keep up with new research related to breastfeeding, but the most helpful thing I have found for understanding my patient's need is reading social media posts from local and national mom’s groups. Social media posts help me understand challenges new moms are facing related to breastfeeding and help me keep up with new and popular infant products that families are using.

My time in the college of HHP at UF made a lasting impression on me both professionally and personally. One of my best friends to this day I met in my very first health education class.

[Profile added in 2021]

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