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St. Luke’s nurse conquers fear, finds new talent as a champion storyteller

Robin Dahl, a St. Luke's transfer center nurse, with her prize after winning Story Story Night's "Slammer of the Year." With her is artistic director Jodi Eichelberger.
By Dave Southorn, News and Community
January 3, 2024

Just by putting her name in the hat, Robin Dahl felt plenty brave.

Attending Boise’s long-running Story Story Night, Dahl could have just attended to have a drink, hang out with friends and hear people she didn’t know step in front of the room to tell a story.

But as a fan of even longer-running The Moth Podcast, which features similar true storytellers, Dahl thought she would give it a shot.

“It was a bucket list thing for me,” Dahl said. “I love to tell stories with friends … but an audience, that’s much more scary. I kind of thought I conquered my fear just by submitting my name. Maybe I wouldn’t even get picked, who knows?

“I got picked first.”

So, Dahl, a St. Luke’s transfer center nurse, fought her nerves and got up on stage.

And she crushed it.

Robin Dahl at work at St. Luke's.

Turns out, she was so good, she was invited back in September to compete with other top storytellers to be Story Story Night’s Slammer of the Year.

And Dahl won that, too.

“I was so proud of Robin,” said Erin Hopkins, a St. Luke’s employee health nurse. “She faced her fears of public speaking and took the leap with this. Robin is such a great friend to so many. She is a level-headed, honest, hilarious and kind-hearted person.”

That first night she hopped on stage, back in February, Dahl had a story at the ready. She made sure she had a drink to calm her nerves and thought her story fit the night’s theme of “touch.”

Now, Dahl isn’t a big hugger, but in her job as a nurse, touch is important — both physical and the more abstract sense. To her, it also means her fellow nurses understand and can form a bond quickly.

Her story was about one of her friends whose mother had recently died. The mother had finished a painting — understood to be the only one she had ever finished. Dahl helped tracked it down to a laundry room at an RV park in Hagerman.

“We thought it doesn’t belong there, so we had to get it for her, and we swapped it out with this ‘paint your pet’ thing I did of my cat,” Dahl said. “It was a very low-stakes art heist, I guess.”

A week or so later, an officer called Dahl. After some grilling and fearing she was in some trouble, the voice on the phone let her know it was her friend’s father, eventually telling her it meant a lot to their family.

Call it a “touch”-ing debut.

Robin Dahl's son, Jacob, the subject of one of her stories, with kids in Honduras.

At the Slammer of the Year event in September, it was a pirate-themed celebration, even having the storytellers walk a plank. “Shipwrecked” was the theme.

Dahl had just the tale.

“I did a medical mission trip a few years ago to Honduras (founded by a St. Luke’s doctor in the early 2000s) and I took my son,” Dahl said. “I thought a lot about Gilligan’s Island and how you can apply those characters … I thought I was all prepared, turned out I was the princess, like Ginger. My son thrived and the lesson I thought I was teaching him, I taught myself.”

For the event’s finale, the storytellers were surprised with a topic – “found.”

While others perhaps continued their stories, Dahl had a special one in her mind.

“It was pretty amazing timing — I was adopted at birth and recently had connected with (my biological) family, which was emotional of course,” Dahl said. “We all rescued each other.”

Dahl’s story earned her the event’s top honor.

“At first, I was regretting saying I’d come back again because then it was on my mind for so long,” she said. “Then all my friends wanted to come, so it was a little stressful!

“I still can’t believe I won.”

Even though she had wowed audiences, impressed friends and found a talent she didn’t know was as strong as it was, Dahl says she’s retired from the public storytelling game.

But her St. Luke’s career? She is more than happy to keep that going even after more than 30 years in nursing.

“I consider us ‘air traffic control’ for St. Luke’s facilities,” Dahl said of the transfer center. “It’s often fast-paced.

“I like the St. Luke’s culture so much. I’ve worked other places … it’s hard to appreciate it until you have something else to compare it to. It’s really a great place to work, full of respect. They treat patients and staff with the same level of respect.”

  • Want to see Dahl tell her stories? Click here for her debut, here for her first story at Slammer of the Year and here for her second.

About The Author

Dave Southorn works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.