July 2017
First A Nurse – No Matter Where, No Matter What

Meet ten Michigan State University Spartan Nurses who were going about their everyday lives—until they were unexpectedly called into duty to care for someone experiencing a health crisis, meet a challenge, save a life, or comfort someone as they take their last breath.

Letter from the Dean

“Being 'First a Nurse' means aligning passion, skill set, and education. Only then can one make the most valuable contributions to patient care, education, and research. To be a Spartan Nurse means not only using the talents and skills that you’ve learned—it’s a contribution of who you are as a person,” says Dean Rasch.


Heroic actions are taken by Spartan Nurses every day. How have you made a difference in a health crisis?

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IN TRAFFIC | Taking Action After Tragedy Hits

As Spartan Nurse Penny Pittard Maroldo, CON BSN ’70, witnessed a fatal car crash, she knew that the victim needed aid. Without even thinking, she jumped out and ran to the car hoping to get him out of his vehicle and start CPR, but she could not get the door open. The window was open a few inches—just enough so she could touch his arm. He was breathing, and he had a pulse.

Waiting for the police and ambulance to arrive, she stayed with him, her hand on his arm, telling him she would not leave him alone. A few moments later, he took his last breath and passed away with a Spartan Nurse comforting him on a six-lane highway that summer morning of 2001.

A NIGHT OUT | Human Life: Nothing to Gamble With

All eyes were on him as he rushed into the ladie's room at the Gold Strike Casino in Jean, Nevada. “It’s okay. He’s a nurse,” one of the security guards assured the group gathered around an obese woman lying on her back on the restroom floor. “Is she alive?” the Spartan Nurse asked the security guards. No one answered. “Does she have a pulse?” Again, no answer.

“Seeing a person collapsed in front of me was not intimidating at all. Even in nursing school, I was always the one to jump in and take charge during a code,” says Ronald Coronado, CON BSN ’92.

IN FLIGHT | On the Ground and in the Air – On Duty 24/7

The plane was dark and peaceful as the passengers on the international flight dozed off or watched movies. Newly pregnant Bridget Burns-King, CON MSN ’13, and her husband were on their way to Italy to enjoy the last vestiges of freedom before becoming parents. A couple of hours into the flight, as she slept, her husband noticed a group of people gathering near a passenger several rows ahead, so he went to inquire.

He woke his wife with a nudge, and this Spartan Nurse was immediately “on duty.”

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ACROSS THE GLOBE | The Making of a Humanitarian Nurse

230,000 dead and 300,000 injured. For seven days, Yvonne Visbeen, CON BSN ’81, and her team cared for residents after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010. There was an endless line of patients from sunup to sundown. The physical demands and the emotional stamina required of the team were high. They saw 400 to 500 patients every day.

“For me, that split-second decision changed the rest of my life," says Visbeen. "I hope I never lose the compassion, and never miss an opportunity to help relieve the suffering of others around the world.”

Dark of Night
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AT THE GYM | Fight or Flight?

Moments before, everything had seemed normal in the hot, humid gym as students moved from the 45-minute boxing portion of their class into the yoga session. Then someone noticed that one of the men, instead of getting into the downward dog position, was lying facedown on his yoga mat, gasping for breath. When the instructor yelled, “Call 911!” almost everyone fled the crowded room and ran into the lobby—except for a Spartan Nurse who was in her first year of nursing.

“I knew what I had to do, so I jumped right in and began CPR. My tiny strength felt powerful,” says Amy Bakalar, CON BSN ’13.

AT WORSHIP | Serving the Community: It’s a Calling

As a member of an Emergency Response Team in Detroit and a health fair volunteer in Flint, Rhonda Conner-Warren, Assistant Professor, was called to serve in a time of need. “I don’t remember your face, but I remember your voice,” said one heart attack survivor that Conner-Warren helped to stabilize until the ambulance arrived.

DINING OUT | Putting Others First – It’s the Spartan Way

Patrons dined as the jazz band played. Shannon Inman, CON BSN ’13, was celebrating her birthday with family. There was a commotion, and the band suddenly stopped playing. Inman instinctively jumped up and went to help. “I could choose to ‘leave work at work,’ but I also have the skills and the ability to help people, even when I’m not ‘on duty’,” says Inman.

ON THE JOB | Life and Death Decisions

“I don’t want a pacemaker,” 78-year-old Harold said as he sat with his wife and three daughters in the family nurse practitioner’s office discussing his recent tests and the implications of the results. The Spartan Nurse, Julie Thomas-Beckett, CON BSN ’86, MSN ’91, helped navigate the family through this life-and-death decision—developing a plan with patients, not for patients.

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