Russell Michaelsen didn’t graduate from the WSU College of Nursing until he was nearly 50, after working as a medical lab tech, logger, commercial fisherman, hunting guide, and builder.
As a nurse, he added inventor to that list of vocations.
Michaelsen, now 78, co-founded Hyprotek, Inc. in Spokane in 1994 to develop medical devices and products that reduce the risk of patient infections. The product line grew out of his work as a nurse at a Spokane hospital. That’s also where he met Dr. Patrick Tennican, a board-certified internist and infectious disease specialist in Spokane, and together, they launched Hyprotek with L. Myles Phipps, Ph.D. » More …
An alumna of the WSU College of Nursing led a drive to raise money to buy dozens of pizzas for the staff of a hospital in Las Vegas after 58 people were killed at a concert there.
Crystal Burris, an emergency department nurse at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, told KHQ-TV that she and a co-worker were watching coverage of the mass-casualty incident and wondering how they could help.
“We like Vegas. We go to Vegas. And we’re also ER nurses. So we thought immediately when we saw the news of the shooting, that could’ve been us,” she told the TV station.
Burris and her co-worker started a fund-raising drive to collect money to send pizza to the ER staff at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, which is the closest trauma center to the Las Vegas strip. Sunrise treated 199 patients after the Oct. 1 shooting at a country music festival in the city, 16 of whom died. More than 50 patients had undergone surgery at the hospital within the first 24 hours after the shooting.
Burris said she and her co-worker were surprised at the number of donations they received – $1,200 in all. They sent more than 20 large pizzas, sandwiches, and salads to the ER staff at Sunrise Hospital, according to KHQ.
Emilie Kimball’s nursing degree will take her across the globe later this month to volunteer for Mercy Ships in Africa.
Kimball said she views it as her third “career” in nursing in the six years since she graduated from the WSU College of Nursing. She worked in the surgical unit at Seattle Children’s, then in the pediatric intensive care unit there.
She’ll be a ward nurse on the Africa Mercy, the largest civilian hospital ship in the world with five operating rooms and 80 patient beds, docked for 10 months in Douala, Cameroon. Mercy Ships, a faith-based nonprofit, provides surgery and dental care and trains local doctors and nurses in specific areas of expertise.
Kimball heard about Mercy Ships a few years ago and was intrigued, she said. Then she discovered her employer, Seattle Children’s, offers sabbaticals after just five years of service.
“I decided it was time, applied for sabbatical, applied for Mercy Ships, and here I am one month out” from her Sept. 30 departure, she said recently. She’ll work on the ship for 10 weeks, then plans to travel before returning to Seattle.
That’s the kind of flexibility and adventure a nursing career can offer, said Kimball, 28.
“Nursing is such a great career,” she said. “It fits my personality to a T. I love the science behind it, I like the critical thinking, I like caring for people. It’s fun to see how nursing can be used in different ways.”
Kimball came by the profession naturally. She jokes that she graduated nursing school twice, since her mother was pregnant with Emilie in 1988 when she graduated from the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education. ICNE eventually became the WSU College of Nursing.
“I knew I wanted to be a nurse since I was 3,” Kimball said, and she always knew she wanted to attend WSU for nursing school. She spent her first two years at Whitworth University.
She added, “I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t a nurse. My roommate works for (a major Seattle-area employer), and being in the business world is not who she is. But for most nurses, being a nurse is who you are.”
With undergraduate students beginning their nursing studies this week, we asked WSU College of Nursing alumni and the larger nursing community what they wish they’d known then. Here’s what they said:
It’s OK to say, “I don’t know.”
As a student and as a newly minted nurse, it’s easy to get caught up in the belief that you need to know everything right now. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer and to ask questions. Eventually, your patients will trust and respect you more for saying, ‘I don’t know the answer to that question, but I will find out for you.”
Take care of yourself while you’re in school.
Though you’ll definitely think you don’t have the time, it’s important to exercise, eat right, rest, and make time to do the things you enjoy. Which brings us to…
Managing your time is essential.
Time management will be one of the most important skills you’ll learn in nursing school. Whether you use an old-fashioned planner or an app, block out times for focused study, self-care, work or family time. Mark down important due dates as soon as you get your syllabus.
Protect your body.
Nursing is a physically demanding job – lifting or moving patients, awkward positions and constant standing. Nurses as a group experience as much back, shoulder and neck injury as construction workers. So start off right – learn good body mechanics. Buy and wear compression socks to save your legs and veins. And invest in very good shoes.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
You got into the WSU College of Nursing, so you’re smart and driven. Check. But it’s a safe bet that you’re going to fall down at some point. You’ll get a B (or a C). You’ll feel lost/unsure/incompetent in clinicals. Here’s the important thing: don’t let it derail you. Talk to your instructor. Practice positive self-talk. Nursing school is tough – but so are you.
Create a study group.
It’ll help you process and prioritize the loads of information coming at you. Just as importantly, you’ll be with a group of people who know exactly what you’re going through.
Start using your stethoscope as soon as you have it. Listen to lung sounds on anyone who will stand still long enough, because the sooner you know what normal sounds like, the easier it will be to identify abnormal. Take full advantage of your clinical time to see and do all that you can.
Build your critical thinking skills.
Nursing school is going to be different than many of your previous college classes. You can’t just memorize a fact and dredge it up on a test. You need to fully understand why that’s the case and be able to explain it to someone else.
Effective communication is a vital part of patient safety, so start practicing those habits in nursing school. It can be scary to speak out, yes. Tips to help: don’t accuse, explain. Back up your case with facts and data. And assume that others share your desire to improve patient care.
Recognize that even when you finish school, you’ll still have a lot to learn. Be open to advice from more experienced people.
Kathryn Brault loves her job, and that’s why she’s a preceptor for the WSU College of Nursing and other schools.
As a preceptor, she’s one of the many experienced practitioners who volunteer their time to instruct and supervise nursing students during clinical training. Brault is a Family Nurse Practitioner who runs a specialty clinic in the Tri-Cities for diabetes patients, and also precepts students at Grace Clinic, which provides free health care to people in need.
Why does she do it?
“Medicine in general is something we learn best by doing,” said Brault, who earned her RN-BSN and MN degrees from the WSU College of Nursing. She believes mentoring students helps her continue to hone her clinical skills, because “when you have to explain and teach something, you become more aware.”
Also, it’s important for practitioners to give back to the profession. “That’s what makes medicine good, that we all collaborate,” she said.
Nursing students appreciate the time Brault spends with them. Said one student, “Kathy has a great way of explaining information so it makes sense.”
Brault said her work as a volunteer preceptor is satisfying. “I love what I do, and I want other people to see how rewarding it can be.”
Visit our Preceptor Portal for information on being a WSU College of Nursing preceptor.
Just a decade after Shelly McHugh graduated from what would become known as the WSU College of Nursing, she began a regular habit of donating to the school.
She’d begun planning her philanthropy even earlier, saying she told her husband before they got married, “Someday I’m going to be giving what I can to the WSU undergrad nursing school because they helped me.”
McHugh’s generosity is mostly directed toward undergraduate student scholarships, because that’s the only way she was able to attend WSU. She graduated from what was then called the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education in 1977, with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Despite working summers and after school from the time she was 12, she didn’t have enough money saved to cover her college costs when she graduated from Marycliff High School in Spokane in 1973. A counselor there, however, pointed the way to various undergraduate scholarships. McHugh could only afford a 10-meal-a-week plan while she lived on campus in Pullman, so she worked in the dining hall because the shifts came with a free meal.
She had a mission. “I’ve known from the age of 2 that I wanted to be a nurse,” she said.
After graduation, McHugh worked for 16 years at Sacred Heart hospital in Spokane, leaving in 1993 when her husband’s job was transferred to Colorado. For nearly a dozen of those years, she was part of a tight-knit group in the hospital burn program. The nurses coordinated shifts to provide the greatest continuity of care to families, she said. “We made sure patients had no more than a maximum of five nurses so they and their families knew who they were dealing with, particularly with children or abuse cases. Those were very hard.”
She worked in a Denver hospital, then retired. That got boring, so she now works a couple days a week from home as a utilization review nurse case manager.
McHugh said she looks at her donations to the WSU College of Nursing as a way to return the favor of those benefactors who helped set her on the path to a rewarding career in nursing. “They gave me the support I needed at the time, and I just figured I’m paying it forward.”
Plus, she added, “There’s a little bit of enlightened self-interest – we are all going to need nurses to care for us at some point.”
Nursing wasn’t Lorie Stucke’s first love. That was journalism, the career where she’d spent more than a decade. But turmoil in that industry prompted her to do some soul-searching.
What she liked about journalism was the chance to build trust with someone, to tell their story and by that action become part of their story in a small way. What other career, she wondered, could make her feel the same way?
Turns out, it was nursing. “I realized that patients need you to help them understand what’s happening, that they can’t always articulate what they need and you need to be their champion,” she said. “That’s where you become part of their story.”
Stucke enrolled in the Washington State University College of Nursing in 2013, when she was 39.
In doing so, she was among a small but consistent group of students at the college who begin their nursing studies after age 35. Over the last five years, about 7 percent of the pre-licensure students at the WSU College of Nursing were over age 35 when they took their first nursing program class. Ten students were 50 or older when they started.
“By supporting the simulation program at the Washington State University College of Nursing, you are helping to save lives,” said Jameson Edwards, a recent BSN graduate from the college.
“My training in simulation has prepared me to save patients under my direct care,” Jameson said. “In simulation, I have practiced giving care in unique, and what could be stressful, life-threatening situations, which has directly impacted the way I give care in my current practice.”
Now a Registered Nurse working on the Cardiac Transplant Unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., Jameson has had many opportunities to utilize the simulation training he received.
“One night while I was on break, I heard a fellow nurse call for help,” he said. “I jumped up and grabbed a code cart, just like we are trained to do in simulation. I ran into the room to quickly assess the patient who had a potentially lethal ventricular arrhythmia.” » More …
Carol Huebner graduated in 1972 from the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education and went on to notable career successes in both the military and academia. But she never forgot her “very, very warm feelings” for her alma mater, so in 2014, she and her husband Michael Huebner created an endowed scholarship to benefit students at the Washington State University College of Nursing.
“We just wanted to pay it forward so other students could benefit from some financial support,” Carol said of the couple’s $25,000 gift.
She retired from the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in 2001 as a Colonel, with her last job being Chief Nurse of the Army hospital system. Carol Huebner, PhD, RN, FAAN, also is Professor Emerita from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio after serving on the faculty for 12 years. » More …
Standing in front of a photo of a brick building, Janet Holloway, WSU Associate Professor Emeritus, points to a window and says, “my room was right in the corner.”
Holloway, 83, is showing where she lived as a nursing student in Spokane in the mid-1950s, when then-Washington State College joined with St. Luke’s Hospital to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing – a program truly ahead of its time.
Nursing students spent their first two years in Pullman, as many students in the WSU College of Nursing do now. They moved to Spokane to spend their final two years at St. Luke’s Hospital and other agencies, but unlike present-day students, the nurses lived together in Finch Hall on North Summit Boulevard. There, students’ room, board, and even laundry were provided. » More …