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College of Nursing

iCON | Intranet for the College of Nursing
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A part of empathetic health care


Melanie DeCook, BSN ’23, knew that she would pursue nursing upon graduating from Michigan State University’s College of Social Science. What she did not expect was a traumatic health experience that confirmed she was doing the right thing. After her child was forced to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for six weeks after birth, DeCook promised that she would become a NICU nurse to care for parents and their newborns just as her family was cared for.

Finding Spartan nursing

Attending Michigan State University was always the goal for DeCook. Her parents and brother attended MSU, paving the way for her to make the most out of her MSU experience. Her husband, Norm Beauchamp III, also comes from a family full of Spartan green. However, choosing a degree in East Lansing proved a difficult task. 

“I knew I wanted to do something within science and health, but I wasn’t sure which kind of career I wanted to pursue,” said DeCook.

DeCook entered the Interdisciplinary Studies program in the MSU College of Social Science with a concentration on Health and Society. In the third year of her program, she attended an information session about the College of Nursing. 

“After that program, I was sure that nursing was calling my name,” said DeCook. “I just knew that I wanted to help people and make a difference in the world.”

DeCook planned to enroll in the accelerated BSN program after graduating from her undergraduate program. DeCook became pregnant with her daughter Anneliese soon after receiving her first degree. She and Beauchamp decided to delay her return to school until after DeCook gave birth. However, her child had other ideas.

Empathy in the NICU

At 32 weeks, DeCook suffered a placental abruption. Anneliese was delivered safely and immediately placed in the NICU. “It was the scariest experience of my life, but I had the most amazing experience in the NICU,” said DeCook. 

DeCook credits the NICU nurses with giving her hope in a time of fear. The staff spent Anneliese’s entire six-week stay in the NICU educating DeCook and Beauchamp, updating them every moment they could, and deeply caring for Anneliese when her parents couldn’t be there. 

Some nurses made crafts for Anneliese during their night shifts. DeCook recalls their empathy fondly. 

“Every morning, I would come in and I would see these little crafts they spent all night making. It made me feel like Annie was so cared for.”

The six-week NICU stay reaffirmed to DeCook that she chose the right career. She made it her goal to become a NICU nurse to care for “little fighters” and their parents just as she and her daughter were cared for. 

Completing the circle

DeCook achieved that goal this summer after completing the 15-month ABSN program. Anneliese, just shy of her third birthday, enjoyed watching her mother receiving her nursing pin at the College of Nursing’s summer graduation. 

DeCook will begin working at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI, upon passing the NCLEX exam. DeCook participated in leadership clinicals at DeVos’s NICU, an experience that aided her interview process. 

“I spent 120 hours in the NICU. That clinical prepared me well for this new job,” said DeCook.

DeCook will stay connected to the Spartan Nursing community through volunteering. She plans to precept for clinical placements later in her nursing career. She values belonging to a family of Spartans, both related and found. 

“Being a Spartan… it’s so different. It’s more than just a school, it’s a family.”