Ballantyne: Give thanks during National Nurses Week

BY GUEST COLUMN | MAY 07, 2013 5:00 AM

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Florence Nightingale, who is widely considered the founder of modern nursing, once said: “The progressive world is necessarily divided into two classes — those who take the best of what there is and enjoy it, and those who wish for something better and try to create it.” National Nurses Week, which culminates with International Nurses Day on May 12 — Nightingale’s birthday — gives us the opportunity to reflect on generations of University of Iowa College of Nursing graduates who wish for, and work every day to create, the very best for their profession, their patients, and their communities.

Judy Collins — who earned a B.S.N. degree from the UI in 1965 and an M.A. degree from the UI in 1967 — wasted no time getting started on her life in nursing, taking a job as a nurse’s assistant in a hospital at the age of 16. But her connection to the profession stretches back even further — all the way to age 5, on stage, front and center at a gathering for her piano club.

“We were asked to introduce ourselves to the audience,” recalls Judy. “I did that and told everyone that I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up.”

And her inspiration for being so certain at such a young age?

“I can’t say it was inspiration, exactly. I just don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a nurse,” she says.    

Judy spent much of her career as a psychiatric nurse in various health-care settings and also joined a multidisciplinary mental health practice in Davenport. She is the past president of the Iowa Nurses Association and, though now retired, she remains active in the field, including service on the Public Policy Committee for the Iowa Nurses Association. In addition to her policy work, Judy has given generously of her time through various volunteer efforts on issues of child health, domestic violence and abuse, Alzheimer’s caregiver training, and suicide prevention. Before retiring, Judy returned to the UI to serve on the faculty at the College of Nursing.

Another UI College of Nursing graduate, Ann Teske — who earned a B.S.N. degree from the UI in 1969 and an M.A. degree from the UI in 1971 — credits her UI College of Nursing experience for the professional success she has had. “I’ve always been very proud of my nursing education from the University of Iowa,” says Ann. “With the emphasis on higher education to meet the complex requirements of health care, degrees in nursing — from undergraduate degrees to master’s and Ph.D. degrees — are more important than ever.”

After graduating from the UI, Ann went on to earn her Ph.D. at Ohio State University in 1980. She is an associate professor in the Department of Nursing at Otterbein University and serves as principal of A. Teske & Associates, a health-care consulting firm. She was previously the executive director of the Institute of Health and Human Services at Ohio University. In her role at Ohio University, she cowrote the Ohio Rural Health Plan, was instrumental in developing a much-needed retirement complex in her community, and founded Kids on Campus — a six-week summer program  providing  nutrition, health assessments, and education that won  a national award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1998.

Countless UI College of Nursing graduates — people like Judy and Ann — have dedicated their careers to changing lives in their communities. They do this by providing quality health care throughout Iowa and beyond and also through their ongoing support for nursing education.

Ann has made gifts to the College of Nursing for decades, and she was the lead giver for the Class of 1969 gift to the college. Judy has made several gifts to various UI areas, including the College of Nursing. Judy also remembers being on the receiving end of philanthropy as a student, benefiting from scholarship support that helped offset the costs associated with pursuing her nursing degree. Now, she hopes to help nursing students similarly.

“I remember a teacher I had who encouraged me to continue my education and pursue a Ph.D.,” says Judy. “But I had two babies at home, and the timing just never worked out. I give back because I want to do what I can to help other people make their way to that place in the sky.”  

We’re grateful for nurses such as Judy and Ann for advancing quality health care in their communities, and for their support of the nurses of tomorrow. Please join us in celebrating nurses everywhere this week — and throughout the year — with expressions of gratitude for all they do.

Dayna Ballantyne
director of development, UI College of Nursing

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