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College of Nursing

Neighborhood Nurses - Dianne Junior

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Flint, a city that thrived with automobile manufacturing, became a place where abandoned buildings, boarded up homes and other signs of urban decay are not out of the ordinary.


Over the years, members of the community have worked to revitalize it — from murals painted across the city to new businesses opening doors and the restoration of the Capitol Theatre Building downtown. Dianne Junior, MSN ‘03, was born and raised in Flint and has seen first-hand how much it has transformed over the years. 


Junior got her start in nursing after a summer school program for inner-city kids through the local Mott Foundation. During the program, she went through training to take the state board exam to become a nursing assistant. After completion, she landed a job at a nursing home. 


“When I was little, I knew I wanted to be a nurse and the nursing part of me kept growing,” she said. “When I was working at the nursing home, I met a nurse practitioner who was so nice and really valued the input of the nurse assistants. That was the fire that got things started.” 


Junior earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from another university, but in the early 2000s, she enrolled at Michigan State University to advance her degree because it was a change of pace for her. 


“I wanted a new challenge,” she said. “I liked the program and the philosophy of nursing.” 


The path to earning her degree wasn’t without challenges. At one point, Junior said her life got “a little hectic,” and she thought about stopping the program. An instructor in the college persuaded her to not give up. 


“One of the instructors said, ‘We go through this adjustment point trying to manage school and life. Don’t quit. Readjust. Proceed to carry on.’ That was encouraging for me, it made the difference,” Junior said. “Who knows what would have happened. I appreciate that person seeing the potential in me and telling me to hang on. Look where I am now — I graduated and have my degree.” 


"I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, I’m a Spartan Nurse. I feel good about serving my community.” —Dianne Junior


Junior earned a Master of Science in Nursing from the college’s Adult Gerontology Nursing Practitioner Program. In her career, she has worked in a variety of settings from nephrology to homecare. Currently, she is a nurse practitioner who works with visiting physicians to offer a comprehensive plan for homebound patients.  


“I switched to homecare because I decided I wanted to get in the primary arena and back to geriatrics, which is my specialization,” Junior said.


Although a grandparent or older family member might be the patient she came to see, Junior said stressing the importance of health care is a multigenerational effort. In her work, she said it’s important to not bring any biases, and listen to people. 


“Some people have not had a complete physical in many years,” she said. “You don’t know that there is anything wrong with you because you haven’t had anything checked.”


Education and sharing information on preventative medicine to help people in Flint, and beyond, is crucial and one area Junior said is lacking. 


“There are so many people in Flint who are at risk, with multiple comorbidities, unmanaged things,” she said. “The place I work for, we’re starting immunization education. The more we talk about it, the more it will maybe become acceptable.” 


Despite the devastation the city of Flint and its residents have endured, Junior said she continues to live and work in the community because it’s the place she’s always called home. 


“I feel like I’m truly living my purpose,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, I’m a Spartan Nurse. I feel good about serving my community.”