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Welcome Alumni and Friends

Welcome, Alumni and Friends! The School of Nursing, the College of Health Sciences and the University are proud of the accomplishments of nearly 5000 nurses with academic roots at Boise State University and of the difference they make every day in the lives of clients and in the health care delivery system.

We welcome your involvement with the Boise State Alumni Association in a variety of ways, including leadership, philanthropic support, service, and suggestions to enhance achievement of our vision for excellence and our connections with alumni.

Alumni in Action

Globally, Boise State University graduates distinguish themselves professionally and personally. Your contributions are significant, whether they be to the nursing profession or to family care giving or daily decision-making. We will select “featured alumni in action” from both individual submissions or nominations. Your nursing career reflects your choices, situational opportunities and your education from Boise State University. The following are a sampling of the many alumni who are involved in diverse professional and social projects. Click on an alumnus’ name to learn more about their career at and beyond Boise State.

Class of 2012

Meredith Farmer Grubbs

Meredith GrubbsBy the time I entered the nursing program in January of 2010, I was already feeling a bit worn down. While I had meticulously cultivated the high grade point average that ensured my entry into the program, I wondered if I had lost sight of what made me want to become a nurse in the first place.

With the help of professors and classmates, I weathered the bumpy transition from prerequisite courses to the nursing program. Because I was particularly passionate about the nuts and bolts of nursing education, I served as a class representative on various faculty committees. Later I worked alongside nursing faculty and administration as an editor for the program’s accreditation report. In my final semester I worked with Eldon Walker to create an independent study course tailored to my interests in critical care. It was after taking ownership of my Boise State education that I really began to reap its benefits.

As I discovered, nursing education is a team effort. I am indebted not only to my professors at Boise State but also to nurses in the community who mentored me. Now, after relocating to Colorado and passing the dreaded NCLEX, I am happy to report that I will begin a new graduate residency at the Denver VA ICU this January. I look forward to continuing my nursing education throughout my career.

–Meredith Farmer Grubbs
Class of 2012

Class of 2010

Cathy Deckys

Cathy DeckysFirst Graduate of the Master of Science program;
Faculty member 2010
Cathy Deckys (2010, MS) took the step ladder approach in her educational pathway. After receiving an ADN in 1976 from Lewis- Clark State College, she realized the need for a better foundation in nursing. This led to a BSN in 1998 from the University of Washington, which enhanced her ability to apply critical thinking skills. Since her first degree, she has been most enlightened about how important it is to keep learning and how integral this is to nursing.

Her master’s program in Population Health Nursing was a natural fit with her beliefs and background. She gained a deeper understanding of research that was woven into the program, leadership, grant writing and statistical applications. She built upon her leadership expertise by studying a different paradigm, quantum leadership, which may be thought of as horizontal leadership. Among those who influenced her in the master’s program, Cathy cited Val. C. Greenspan, Ph.D., RN for grant writing and financial aspects and Ingrid Brudenell, Ph.D. (now professor emeritus) and Pam Springer, Ph.D. for mentoring her in the research process and in thesis writing. Cathy received funding from the Idaho Community Foundation for her grant writing requirement; this grant application entitled, “Hands Helping Hearts” provided Red Cross First Aid/CPR training, with a “train the trainer” skill/knowledge sustainability component, to Somali Bantu refugees. Her qualitative thesis was with the same population.

Her strong belief in preventive health led to a position in long term care with end stage renal clients, which helped her shape her beliefs into realistic applications. In 1979 she worked in a health maintenance organization (HMO) as an orthopedic charge nurse. In 1983 she was hired by a major grocery chain from about 200 applicants for an occupational health nurse position including employee health. In 2000 she was employed by another company where she was empowered to develop a wellness/health education program for employees. This fit well with both her nursing background and with teaching aerobics. Cathy’s work resulted in recognitions from the American Red Cross and in leadership positions, President and Vice President, with the Washington Occupational Health Nurses organization.

Her strong love for teaching was carried out in various courses (e.g., First Aid, American Heart Association) to nurses and the public. Now, at Boise State University where there is a “great learning environment,” she stated she is “living her dream” as she teaches in a senior level leadership/ management clinical and in a preceptor course. Cathy wants to share her thirty years of nursing experience and knowledge. She likes to step out and lead and likes the relative autonomy in her current faculty position.

On a personal note, she enjoys trips to the ocean and loves dancing and jazz. She proudly announced that her husband is earning a baccalaureate degree in anthropology from Boise State University and plans to graduate in December. Future plans include working on a doctoral degree.

Class of 2009

Tom Sutherland

Tom Sutherland
Tom Sutherland (May, 2009 AS) built on his BA in liberal arts because he was inspired in many ways by his mother who had a stroke in 2001 and who died in 2007 after Tom’s first semester in the nursing program at Boise State University. At Tom’s birth, his mother was surprised to find out Tom had a twin brother. As a single parent she raised three boys while incorporating positions as a flight attendant and phlebotomist. Her busy life reminds Tom to “take time for self.”

Tom’s career goal, “women’s health,” after graduation was, also, inspired by his mother. He joined the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWOHNN) where he placed his resume profile in their online career center. When interesting positions were posted, he electronically sent the profile. This process resulted in a staff nurse position, which began August 25, 2009 at the Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital, Spokane, WA. In this traditionally female nurse area of employment, another male nurse was a “trail blazer” at this medical center. Tom spoke of having a wonderful preceptor whose background included legal and nurse educator.

In reflecting on his career highlights thus far, Tom said it was an honor to share in the birthing experience. To the birthing experience he brings positive acknowledgement as a male figure, shares support and information to birthing couples, and empowers parents. He is rewarded by a “thank you,” which reassures him that he is concentrating in the right area of nursing. He enjoys his connections with clients.

While his time hasn’t yet allowed for social or service projects, Tom reflected about volunteering during his student years in an urgent care area. He helped with client interviews, which helped refine his skills. After his mother’s stroke, he became certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and was privileged to attend many lectures (e.g., planning for pandemics and disasters) that are apt to be beneficial during his nursing career.

During the clinical component of the nursing program at Boise State University, Tom learned several charting systems, but was surprised to feel like a student again when he had to learn a totally different charting system at Sacred Heart. He said everyone has been very supportive as he has transitioned into his new role. In addressing examples of how Boise State University prepared him for his nursing career, he cited things he said weren’t necessarily part of the curriculum (e.g., J. Carnosso’s class where examples from her clinical experiences related to theory; Sherri Chatham’s manner in taking extra time in explanations to students in the Learning Resource Center; Jill Humble’s insights during a psychiatric clinical rotation).

In summary, Tom represents himself and Boise State University well in joining other male pioneers in his career choice of women’s health. His story exemplifies the power of professional, interpersonal client-nurse relationships encompassed in his first career position.

Class of 2007 & 2005

Jennifer L. Montague

Jennifer L. Montague
Jennifer “Jenny” L. Montague’s (December 2005, AS; May 2007, BS) international ventures began when she made several trips with a Twin Falls area Capstone Missions to Tijuana, Mexico, where she served at a home for children with chronic health problems (e.g., HIV). After receiving her Associate in Nursing degree, she worked at St. Alphonsus Medical Center for about six months before making a decision to focus wholly on achieving the Baccalaureate in Nursing degree. In August after graduation Jenny attended a Spanish language school in Guatemala, which led to her next venture.

Jenny volunteered at Farm of the Child 27 months in Honduras at an orphanage with 6 houses containing about 4 to 8 children ages 3 to ages 20. Jenny’s primary job was to run a clinic on campus for the children plus two times a week for people from 5 villages who sought urgent care. When she began, she worked with a volunteer nurse practitioner for awhile, but worked by herself for about a year. Other health care workers came and went with various tours of duty. Jennifer’s experiences included suturing machete wounds, caring for a very ill baby whose mother had malaria, caring for diabetics and making a preliminary, later verified, identification of a case of tuberculosis. Her 24/7 responsibilities meant she was awakened at night for issues such as asthma attacks. While the nearest hospital for referrals and serious cases was about 30 minutes away on a “good” day, there were 7 rivers in between that couldn’t be traversed during the rainy season, which was November to January or February. The next hospital was a 3 hour drive. It is not surprising that Jenny’s experience has resulted in a goal to be a pediatric nurse practitioner.

When Jenny began in the nursing program at Boise State University, she just wanted to serve and give back, so nursing was a “way to do that.” She said she wasn’t so excited initially, but now nursing is wonderful and she acclaims her passion for the field and says “I love it.”

Boise State University prepared Jenny for her nursing career because every nursing faculty member stressed critical thinking and independent thinking. Faculty that stood out were Pat Taylor (now emeritus faculty) who knew a lot about many things, Marty Downey who challenged her in clinical and Pam Gehrke who she admired, liked and remembered for her encouragement and strong desire to see students succeed. From Pam she learned a lot and gained public health background.

Jenny plays the guitar, reads, runs and likes the outdoors. In Honduras she was involved in Girl Scouts, organizing various outdoor games in a large field for the children and taking them to swim in one of the rivers. She led a Bible study support group for women. She particularly derived enjoyment from swimming almost daily in the ocean.

Jenny’s ventures have been international. Now that she is back in the United States, she is looking all over the country for her next venture because she wants to practice for awhile in this health care delivery system. Whatever happens next, Jenny will be following her passion!

Class of 2004

Cindy L. Howarth

Cindy Howarth
After graduating from Marsing High School, Cindy Howarth went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Boise State. She is currently the program manager for Reproductive Health Services at the Central District Health Department. Previously, she served as program manager for the Office of Immunizations in Children’s Services and International Health at CDHD. Cindy was widowed at age 32 with three young children. Nine years later she married Rob Howarth, who is the environmental health director at CDHD.

Class of 2003

Jennifer A. Cook

Jennifer CookJennifer A. Cook CNM, APRN, DNP received her initial nursing degree from the College of Southern Idaho in May 1994 (ADN) and her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Boise State University in 2003 (BS). Jennifer continued her education at the University of Utah, receiving her Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Midwifery, December 2005 and her Doctor of Nursing Practice in December 2012.

Jennifer stated that she never regretted becoming a nurse. She has enjoyed the many states she got to see and work in while doing travel nursing as a labor and delivery nurse. She is grateful to have been able to advance her career into advanced practice and especially her passion in obstetrics and women’s health. Jennifer loves serving the women she cares for and for advocating for women in their birth process.

Since finishing her BSN she has resided in Utah. She has been practicing as a CNM for seven years in Utah County and one year ago was hired into private practice with her CNM colleagues to work for Valley OB/GYN. As a result of her doctoral project, she is currently interning as an RN First Assistant to expand her role in first assisting in cesarean section. Another interest for Jennifer is teaching. She was clinical faculty for BYU in 2007 teaching BSN students in obstetrics, and has been a preceptor for midwifery students doing deliveries prior to graduating.

Jennifer has served in the Utah ACNM chapter as a treasurer then in the Utah ACNM affiliate as the vice-president and was nominated and elected as the President in August 2012.

Jennifer’s doctoral project: “Certified Nurse Midwives First Assisting: Benefits, Barriers and Future Education” has been accepted for poster presentation at the Utah Midwifery Regional conference in April 2013 and at the national ACNM convention in Nashville May 2013.

Jennifer states that she is grateful to Boise State Nursing for allowing her into the nursing program as an associate degree nurse and for giving her the strength to move on to pursue a further degree in advanced practice as a Certified Nurse Midwife. Obtaining her bachelor’s degree in nursing was essential for her to reach her goal of becoming a nurse midwife. Prior to studying at Boise State in the RN-BSN program Jennifer had a background in nursing for 9 years. She said that she appreciated the Boise State nursing faculty meeting with her and talking about her options to finish her BSN. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree at Boise State “helped me be a stronger leader and to assess the communities where my patients reside in order to better serve them. Obtaining my BS was a milestone to help me move forward and to apply to advanced practice programs.” Jennifer said, “that she felt the faculty was supportive of her future goals.”

Jennifer said that what she loved most about her nursing career was being a Certified Nurse Midwife, serving women and families and supporting the birth process. Jennifer is passionate about obstetrics and women’s health. She is also grateful to have recently completed a doctor of nursing practice degree, which has assisted her as a leader in advanced practice and is opening up more doors in her role as the President of the Utah ACNM Affiliate. Jennifer has been honored at the University of Utah Honor’s for Nursing 2008-2012.

When Jennifer has some free time she enjoys camping, traveling, being with family and friends and is the proud auntie of 16 with two more on the way.

Jennifer said that she was excited about the new advances Boise State Nursing has for their students. She is a strong advocate for nurses to advance their degrees at their own pace, and never stop learning, there is still so much to learn.

Class of 2001

DeAnna Root

DeAnna RootDeAnna is a 2nd generation Boise native having been raised on a ranch in the Dry Creek area. One of the jobs she had after high school was working for a forward thinking pediatrician who hired full time moms as part time workers. DeAnna had her son while working for Dr. Yambura and brought Jarrell (now a Boise State Bronco football player) to work with her, keeping him under the front desk until he was 4 months old. Working for Dr. Yambura and caring for her grandmother, Dorothy Baumhoff (aka “Grandma Jelly”), gave her an interest in the medical field. As Grandma Jelly was fighting breast cancer she kept telling DeAnna that she should be a nurse but DeAnna didn’t think she was smart enough. Grandma Jelly was persistent and finally DeAnna began thinking that she wanted to be a hospice nurse.

Every teacher DeAnna had in the Associate Degree and the Bachelor Degree programs at Boise State knew what DeAnna wanted to do. Although the typical “career ladder” in nursing was to move into Hospice Care after some experience in other areas of Nursing, no one at Boise State dissuaded DeAnna, and in fact they all worked to get her rotations that would help in her quest. Upon graduation in 2001 DeAnna was interviewed by both Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospice. Mercy wanted DeAnna to work as a nurse on the floor for two years before they would put her into hospice care but St. Luke’s was willing to give her a chance in hospice right away. She was trained by nurses with 15 years of hospice experience and an entire team that loved her enthusiasm. She told them “you need to hire me cause I want to be here, I have the passion, the empathy, and know I can learn anything….I’ve been a student for 6 years.” She has been doing Hospice ever since and still loves it.

DeAnna says that hospice isn’t about dying; it’s about living, as best as you can in your final months, weeks, day and hours. Death is just the last moment of an incredible journey. Her job is to be what the patient needs: advocate, friend, teacher and always a good listener. In the last days her patients lose vision or bladder control, but their sense of humor is almost always one of the last things to go. In her role of nurse she teaches them and their family about dying but she says that she is the one who usually learns the most. She has had patients as young as 12 and as old as 104. She knows many stories and has many wonderful memories that she would be happy to share with you if you ask her.

DeAnna does volunteer work for her patients as well as for St. Luke’s Paint the Town and collecting seeds for Fish and Game and then replanting sage and bitter brush in the spring. She is an avid supporter of Capital High School and Boise State football. She still loves to draw and write poetry, is a rock hound and the head berry picker for “Homemade by Dorothy’s”, a family owned business.

Class of 1995

Lesley Kuchenriter Wilkinson

Lesley Kuchenriter WilkinsonLesley Kuchenriter Wilkinson (1995, BS) knew her nursing career choice would give her lots of options, but she has been most surprised at the variety of nursing positions she actually assumed since graduation. Upon graduation, she moved to Portland, Oregon just as the Kaiser Hospital closed, which caused an oversupply of experienced nurses seeking employment at remaining hospitals. Lesley was hired at a nursing home and was soon promoted to management of an Alzheimer’s unit.

After her husband graduated with his doctorate degree, the family moved back to Boise where Lesley became the Director of Nursing of Marquis Care at Shaw Mountain. She was later employed at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, 1999, at the orthopedic unit to obtain acute care experience. Then, they moved to South Dakota where Lesley was a school nurse for a year. Her career path took her to the Black Hills Surgical Center where she spent 2 years as a nurse on the overnight patient care unit, 2 years as supervisor, and 3 ½ years to the present time as the Chief Nursing Officer. In the latter position, she wears many different hats because of the number and types of services under her purview that include: pain clinic, laboratory services, pharmacy services, and surgical services. She likes most being able to impact patient care in this facility that includes 9 operating room suites, 29 overnight suites, and about 175 employees. She enthusiastically indicated having accomplished her exciting career pathway without going back to school, but said she might continue her education sometime in the future.

Lesley highlighted several ways Boise State University prepared her for her nursing career. Nancy Otterness (now professor emeritus) faculty in senior community health taught how to do detailed assessments where everything was examined and nothing was assumed. Cindy Clark (now professor) was her preceptor who gave a great foundation in action pertaining to leadership and management. She remember how caring and helpful faculty were, including Nancy and Marty Downey in several critical situations, one of which was the need to complete clinical laboratory experiences early before birth of a daughter, Thursday, April 16. However, Lesley was back in school on Monday!

Of importance to Lesley has been her active involvement with the South Dakota Nurses Association where she was district president, 2006-2008 and chair, 2008 convention. She was awarded “Rookie of the Year” by the nurses association. Another professional highlight was presenting on the topic, “Customer Service in Physician Owned Hospitals,” in September, 2009, at the national conference of Physician Hospitals of America, New Orleans. She has also lobbied and spoken to congressman in Washington, DC on behalf of the industry.

Lesley enjoys traveling, camping, boating, and reading. A big part of her life revolves around two high school age daughters. When they were younger, Lesley was a Girl Scout troop leader. She mentored a small group of upper elementary age children in Destination Imagination, which involved intellectual challenges, creativity and helping them arrive at solutions. Lesley’s story reflects a balanced life style and a nursing career that makes a difference in today’s health care delivery system.

Catherine “Catie” Prinzing

Catherine PrinzingCatherine “Catie” Prinzing, a Boise State Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing May, 1995 graduate is a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Clinical Education and Research Department, Saint Alphonsus (St. Al’s) Regional Medical Center (SARMC). Since graduating, she also gained experience as a surgical staff nurse, case manager and visiting nurse in community home health, long term care and rehabilitation nurse, nursing assistant instructor, and medical center nurse educator.

Catie’s professional activities include service as Chair, Nominating Committee of the nursing honorary organization, Sigma Theta Tau, and Treasurer, Idaho Nurses Association. Her service areas include being an advisory board member: Boise State Larry G. Selland College of Applied Science & Technology; Center for Workforce Training; the Health Occupations Program of Boise City Schools; and serving in various capacities in organizations focusing on diabetes.

As a result of her master’s study (MS in Nursing, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Gonzaga University, May, 2006) focusing on diabetes, Catie has made important changes in hospital practices both at St. Al’s and, collaboratively, with St. Luke’s and St. Al’s. Importantly, she supported her son, Ben, to become a BS in Nursing graduate, 2004. Catie has consistently attended continuing education conferences/workshops and national conferences. In 2004 Catie received the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award for the Medical-Surgical area.

Class of 1993

Mark Siemon

Mark SiemonMark Siemon, (1985, BA, Industrial Arts & Education, Western State College of Colorado; 1993, BS in Nursing from Boise State; 2006, dual Masters in Public Health and Community Health Nursing from the University of New Mexico UNM); and 2010, PhDc from University of New Mexico.

After Mark graduated with his first degree he worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, West Africa building a primary school where he learned he liked helping people. He returned to school after in 1987 with an interest in health care, and he soon learned that medicine doesn’t have all the answers – that we need preventative health education and a holistic approach to care.

Mark said that he always wanted to work in public health because of the emphasis on primary prevention and population health. Mark believes he was very fortunate to get a job with the Central District Health Department (CDHD) in Boise soon after graduating from Boise State. He worked at CDHD for two years with some great public health nurse mentors including Harry Ezell and Dieuwke Spencer. Mark then moved to the Southwest in 1995, and began working for the Indian Health Service as a Public Health Nurse in Northern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. Mark returned to school in 2000 to complete the Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of New Mexico (UNM), while working with the Pueblo of San Felipe, an American Indian tribe in north central New Mexico. He spent ten years working with the Pueblo of San Felipe helping them to develop a locally administered health program to better serve the community. When he returned to school in 2008 the Health & Wellness Department at the Pueblo was administering over $4 million dollars in federal funds, grants, and third party revenue. These funds were helping to improve the health of community members through policies and priorities set by the community.

In 2008, while working on his Doctorate in Nursing, he accepted a Fellowship with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Collaborative at UNM College of Nursing. Mark has completed his course work and exams and is currently working on his dissertation focusing on how nurses and community health workers (CHWs) work together as part of community health care teams, and the impact of State certification and standardized training for CHWs on the diffusion of CHWs in health care organizations. Mark helps teach undergraduate community health nursing and health policy courses as a teaching associate with UNM College of Nursing.

Mark received the Outstanding Graduate Student Alumni Award from the University of New Mexico, College of Nursing in 2008. And he serves as a Board member with the New Mexico Alliance for School Based Health Care. He has served on the New Mexico Department of Health Indian Health Advisory Committee from 2007 through 2010. When Mark was asked what has surprised him the most about his nursing career since graduating he replied “I was very surprised to be able to get a job as a public health nurse so soon after graduating. I’d always wanted to work in public health, but I’d been told you had to work for at least a year as floor nurse before specializing. I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work at CDHD, and to have such great public health nurse mentors. I don’t think it is necessary for BSN graduates to spend time in an acute care setting before starting a career in public health. I wish there were more opportunities for new graduate nurses to work in public health.” In his current teaching position he works with beginning nursing students in a family and community health clinical. Through this course he helps students focus on primary prevention and working with the community to improve social and environmental factors that lead to a healthy life. Mark said “so much of our medical care system is focused on treating disease and we do a really poor job of primary prevention for most chronic diseases that are driving health care costs upward. I am especially interested in how public policies impact health for underserved populations and what nurses can do to increase health equity and social justice.” He hopes that his passion for public health nursing transfers to many of his students.

In Mark’s free time, he continues learning to play the mandolin that he first began as a Boise State nursing student. He said he has not hit the big time (or the small time for that matter) yet.

Class of 1992

Victoria Savage

Victoria SavageVictoria Savage (1992, AS) exudes energetic enthusiasm about her career path. After high school she attended 2 years of college with a “health care” focus. Life events paused her education until age 32 when she entered an already full nursing class after another faculty member was hired to teach extra students. Pam Springer (current chair of the School of Nursing) was one of her early clinical instructors. One thing she remembers that Pam wisely told her was that medication errors will happen, but the focus should be on what needs to be done to keep an error from happening again. This is advice she still passes on to young nurses with whom she works and with med aides to whom she delegates under her license. Victoria feels Boise State University adequately prepared her “to learn and practice safely.”

Post-graduation, she worked first on a medical-surgical unit at St. Luke’s for 13 months, and then, as an office nurse in a family practice setting for 7 years. This clinic provided care to a large migrant population and as a result, she became fairly fluent in medical Spanish. At the time, a career goal was emergency room nursing, which meant first strengthening her knowledge of cardiac arrhythmias via being a telemetry unit nurse (16 months). This was one of several settings that impacted her career path by exposing her to the dying process, care of the family, and work with the elderly.

Victoria’s attributes led her through a series of management-leadership type positions including regional nurse in southern Idaho for Sun Health Care Corporation (14 months), clinical case manager Medicare coordinator in long term care, and head nurse at Valley Family Health (7 years). She began in August, 2009 as Director of Nursing for a new private hospice & palliative care, A Promise of Hope, Inc. that currently has 7 employees.

Victoria feels that her leadership roles involve having high standards and exercises respect for her employees, which afforded her with several high integrity nurses with the desire to work for her. In hiring employees ranging from certified nurse assistants to licensed practical nurses to registered nurses, she looks for those that have the “heart for nursing” and demonstrate “integrity.” She respects all levels of employees and wants them to be “caring” and “careful.” She promotes and supports those employees who wish to pursue further education, as well as those that are happy with their current positions. The respect and trust people have for nurses is what surprised her most about her nursing career.

Since Victoria has almost always had 2 or 3 jobs, it is no surprise that she has her own nurse consulting business and, also volunteers occasionally at blood pressure clinics. Her encouragement to her own daughters was twofold—1) “you can do whatever you want if you are willing to pay the price” and 2) “you are responsible for your actions.” She proudly indicated her youngest daughter recently told her that after she finishes a four year university degree, she has decided to become a nurse via a fast track program. In essence, Victoria has touched the lives of clients, employees and family with wisdom and many attributes.

Class of 1990

Dieuwke Spencer

Dieuwke SpencerDieuwke is a graduate of Boise State with a BS in Nursing and a MS from the Masters of Health Science graduate program. Dieuwke spent many years with the Central District Health Department where she facilitated our students working with the health department. Most recently Dieuwke is employed with Health & Welfare as the Chronic Disease Prevention Section Manager for the Bureau of community and Environmental Health. Dieuwke serves on the School of Nursing curriculum team (and has for many years) where she is an active participant giving feedback as a consumer of our graduates.

Class of 1977

Nancy Chaney

Nancy ChaneyNancy Chaney (AD 1977) exudes a visionary passion for influencing healthy bodies, healthy communities and health care in her mayoral position since 2006 at Moscow, ID. Her influence extends from local to national levels. At the local level, she promotes programs including Safe Routes to School; the White House’s initiative “Let’s Move!”, the Active Living Task Force (one of 5 Idaho sites selected to participate); sustainable food systems; pandemic flu preparedness; extensions of walking and cyclist trails; uniquely utilizing Bobcat utility work machines for clearing snow from paths for safe walking by pedestrians, including the elderly and the disabled; and increasing the caliber of the region’s emergency health care via a paramedic training program. Recently she facilitated a multi-stakeholder, solution-based forum addressing poverty on the Palouse. At the state level, she was elected 2nd Vice President by the Association of Idaho Cities for 2011 and is on track to become First Vice President in 2012 and President in 2013. At the national level, she chairs the National League of Cities (NLC) University Communities Council. She was appointed to NLC’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Steering Committee where there is opportunity to influence national policymaking and funding for projects and programs involving ecosystem health. Her various roles help advance positions that are motivated and sustained by social values and the ideal that economic, social, and environmental sustainability are integrally related.

Nancy’s educational and experiential background helped prepare her for her non-partisan elected position. She has applied assessment and communication skills from nursing in a variety of settings. After her nursing degree, she earned a certificate in Archaeology (Oregon State, 1979), a BA in psychology (Boise State, 1979) and an MS in Environmental Science (UI, 2002). Her nursing experience included neuro-surgical (1977-79, St. Alphonsus Hospital); private duty home care and hospice (1979-80); internal medicine practice (1981-90, Pullman WA, with wide-ranging duties including performing electro-cardiograms, sigmoidoscopies, treadmill testing and diabetic education); family practice (Moscow, 1990-92); and office nursing in obstetrics-gynecology (Moscow and Pullman, 1992-98). In those positions, she interacted with a wide array of professionals, which in turn has been useful in her mayor position. Her extensive nursing skills were utilized during the fifteen months (Aug., 1998 to Oct, 1999) when she and her brother shared end-of-life care for their mother in her Boise home; their mother was completely dependent with a neurologic condition and could not see, speak, eat or walk.

In her transition from that experience, she enrolled in a class, Issues for the Emerging Landscape, which invigorated and motivated her to complete a Master of Science in Environmental Science, University of Idaho, 2002. Harkening to her training in neurosurgical nursing and psychology, her thesis involved perception, learning theory and functional magnetic resonance imaging. Even though she did not view herself as being politically engaged beyond voting and writing letters to the editor, she accepted an invitation to run for an unfinished term, 2002-2004, on the City Council. She found a love for this work, which led her through two successful elections for mayor.

Nancy cites her wide ranging, varied clinical student nursing experiences at Boise State University for giving her the knowledge and skills to comfortably address many issues, including “aging in place,” in an integrative manner. She indicates being awestruck at the nursing program’s current clinical simulation laboratory. She has observed how nursing responsibilities, career choices and respect for nurses have increased since her graduation. She is “excited to see the changes in nursing” and is pleased that nurses have a state-wide closeness in their communications.

From a personal perspective, Nancy reflects a high value on health through activities including biking. She once qualified to run the Boston Marathon. She and her husband co-own Veterinary Ophthalmic Specialties with worldwide sales of products related to animal eyes. In summary, Nancy’s wide ranging background amply undergirds her enthusiasm for the OneHealth initiative, conceived by the American Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association and an international coalition of environmental scientists and others, who believe that there cannot be human health without animal health and there cannot be either without ecological health.

Class of 1974

Jane S. Smith

Jane SmithJane Smith has been with the Division of Health for over 22 years. She began in 1986 as a Health Education Specialist, then moved on to become the Program Manager (Maternal and Child Health Nursing Consultant) for the Maternal and Infant Care program.

In her years with the Department, Smith has been appointed Bureau Chief for every Program in Health with the exception of Emergency Medical Services and Laboratories. In the summer of 2006 she was appointed as Division of Health Administrator, the position she still holds today.

Jane and her husband Sherm have two grown children: a daughter who is an attorney in Nevada, and a son who is a mining engineer in Utah. They also have 2 dogs and enjoy traveling, white water rafting, and fishing.

Class of 1965

Judith “Judy” Lynn Robinson Albertson

Judith Lynn Robinson Albertson
Judy entered nursing because the Boise Junior College (BJC) Director of the Life Sciences program spoke at her high school and, after looking at her high test scores in the sciences, pulled her aside to ask about her plans. She said she had prepared to become a secretary and could not afford college. He informed her of the discounted tuition rate for residents of certain districts taxed to help support BJC. He also said BJC would pay for the first semester of college and would renew this scholarship every semester if she maintained a 3.5 grade point average. Another scholarship paid for her books. Judy’s career story is a testimony to the power of scholarships.

In looking back at her education, Judy said students were expected to “step up and apply themselves.” The clinical part required students to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. until noon. Their BJC classes and study involved them into the evening. Judy said the Physical Education (PE) requirement involved a 5:00 a.m. jump rope course and a 10:00 p.m. swimming course in two different semesters. For psychiatric nursing, student nurses lived at Blackfoot for about eight weeks and had meals and entertainment with the residents. This is different from today’s nursing education. Judy has been most surprised at the different “hats” nurses wear (e.g., educator, listener, advisor, innovator, leader). All faculty were remarkable, she said. The Director, Florence Miles, gave each student the feeling that she wanted them to be successful.

Following graduation, Judy worked at St. Luke’s in the emergency room, where she met her future spouse, Pete, an apprentice mortician. While he was in school, they lived 2 years in the San Francisco Bay area during the Vietnam era. Judy’s career was influenced in these dramatic times of the country’s history, which led to growth in her independence and opened her eyes to what could be done as a nurse. She worked, as one of only four registered nurses, on an unusual 60 bed unit with clients who had developed infections after surgery, had gangrene, poor surgical outcomes and/or venereal diseases. Her hospital was involved with the first nurse strikes in the United States. The California Nurses Association was very strong, which was helpful. The nurses never walked out, but they gained quadrupled wages that set the stage for advances in other areas. Judy’s wage before the increase was $180/month with no pay for overtime.

They spent about one year in Orofino, ID and fifteen years in Moscow, ID where Judy worked in obstetric, medical-surgical, and emergency room. Sadly, daughter Robyn died of cerebral edema, a 1% chance complication after the flu. They lived in Twin Falls for two years and in Laramie, WY for one year where Judy worked in medical-surgical, urological and psychiatric nursing areas. Back in Boise, she worked at St. Luke’s Hospital in medical-surgical nursing, at the Elk’s in rehabilitation nursing and at the Good Samaritan facility on a young handicapped unit.

Judy’s leadership surfaced early as she was President of her nursing class. In 1970 she was awarded the Idaho Drug Educator of the Year by the Idaho State JCC. In future years, she was on the forefront of innovative health care delivery when she co-founded two agencies to meet health care needs. Co-founding of the first hospice in Idaho stemmed from observing similarities to her own family experience when her father died young at a hospital with family present, but removed from his home for much of his final illness. The second co-founding stemmed from her experiences with Good Samaritan where she saw a need for young people with handicaps to go out with friends and be with young people, rather than being with the geriatric population. This led to the Hoeger House, a rehabilitation facility for young adults.

In 1988, they moved to Winnemucca, NV when her husband bought a funeral home. Judy was the Director of Nurses at the local hospital. When she elected to change positions, she did infection control and employee health. Both her background in San Francisco with military nurses and families and her last formal nursing positions culminated in her authorship of the bio-terrorism and disaster plan for Nevada.

Judy worked 42 years in nursing before retiring in 2005. Again, her last nursing positions connected with volunteer work (e.g., doing immunizations with the Health Department and assisting school nurses with immunizations and screening). Both her husband and her sit with hospice patients as members of the Pastoral Committee of their church. Judy and her husband’s travels abroad included Europe, China, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Currently, she is a gardener, likes to crochet and is on the Board of Trustees of their church. Uniquely, she is a licensed funeral director, which required study and passing a licensure examination in Nevada. Judy and her husband have a son, daughter and granddaughter.

In summary, Judy’s nursing career has been diverse in types of nursing and in levels of practice. She has been a pioneer in developing new health care services, because she has been perceptive, creative and solution-focused. It is with pride that we highlight this alumnus.

Class of 1964

Carol Fountain

Carol FountainCarol Fountain (’64 AS and ’72-’99 faculty member) continues part-time employment after 45 years in the nursing profession. She says, “They won’t let me retire!” Her career embodies her advice to new graduates, “It is not the end of learning. Nursing school is like kindergarten in one’s education. Go back to school and learn more because things change.” Carol earned a BS degree, 1966, University of Washington and a Master of Nursing degree, 1972, Montana State University. Boise Junior College prepared her and her classmates for nursing, as it existed at that time, judging from their excellent NCLEX-RN pass rate but “changes” have been huge in such areas as technology and discharge teaching that has made nursing totally different. Carol took her final examination in uniform at Boise Junior College to be ready for work at St. Luke’s at a medical-surgical unit; there was no temporary license. During her bachelor’s education in Seattle she worked at Swedish Hospital on a surgical unit. Because of the shortage of master’s prepared nurses, she was paid via a federal traineeship to get her master’s degree, but supplemented funding by working at St. Luke’s on week-ends. She took a fun equestrian class and a valuable extra quarter of education classes.

At Boise College, Carol began teaching basic health needs, refined to 8 week courses, involving nutrition, elimination and “The Hazards of Immobility” with a nursing home clinical. Then she moved to the second level. Florence Mile’s retirement in 1980 opened a clinical teaching assignment at St. Alphonsus where students rotated between orthopedics and neurology and, also, rehabilitation at the Elks. She loved orthopedics; her membership (1982 – present) in the National Association of Orthopedic Nurses Association led to certification.

Carol became program director of the AS program for several years. Since being a program director wasn’t considered a full-time position, she was also the Learning Resources Director where her duties included ordering supplies. After an accreditation, the National League for Nursing (NLN) asked her to run for the Board of Review, the body that made final decisions about program accreditation. She won the election, much to her surprise, and served for about 8 years. She was a site visitor who reviewed programs in WA, OR, CA, WY, MT, IN, OK, VA, MI, WI and TX. She served the American Nurses Association for accreditation of continuing education programs and made 2-3 visits annually with one being to Alaska. All of this work was “so helpful” in the department’s own accreditations. She received a certificate of appreciation from the NLN and a research award from Boise State University. Her career highlights include obtaining 1) capitation grants to get dollars to enroll more nurses and to get current audio-visuals and 2) joint collaborative grants (St. Luke’s, St. Al’s) to hire more faculties and 3) the Nursing Science building, which was new in 1977.

Carol’s busy life includes 38 years on the National Ski Patrol involving duty every other week-end or Sunday where she helped move the injured off Bogus Basin hills. The last 4 years she has been the Pacific Northwest Division Supervisor where she teaches the ski patrol system to less experienced instructors. Her love of travel has taken her to Western Europe, Scandinavia, the Orient, New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji. Go Carol!!

Class of 1958

Shirlene Linderer Erickson

Shirlene Linderer EricksonShirlene Linderer Erickson (AS ’58) contributed 37 years (1958-1995) to St. Luke’s after graduating in the first class, which at that time was a 3 year associate degree program, at Boise Junior College (BJC). For most of her career, she was a pediatric nurse with a progression through positions as staff nurse, medication nurse and charge nurse. She ended her career in a shared position as an interim department director just before retiring in 1995. She always felt her calling was pediatrics and found bedside nursing the most rewarding.

Shirlene said the first class was small and initially there was only one professor, Florence Miles, who was later joined by Jody DeMeyer. The program didn’t have manikins, so the students practiced some basic procedures (e.g., blood pressures, nasal oxygen cannula insertion) on each other. She said that BJC prepared the graduates well, but couldn’t have prepared them for all the changes that would occur in nursing over the years.

Some of the changes occurring over the years are: 1) in pediatrics, parents could only visit at visiting hours, but it was not long until that policy was relaxed and parents were allowed to stay with their children as long as they wished. 2) Nurses were not allowed to start intravenous (IVs) fluids, except for one specially trained Registered Nurse (RN) who worked the day shift. Otherwise, the doctors started the IV or fluids were given by hypodermoclysis (subcutaneous), a procedure that is no longer done. 3) For a short time before plastic disposable syringes, glass syringes with separate needles were used. There were no plastic bags either, so trash cans were lined with newspapers and double wrapped for isolation disposal. 4) Technology has made a huge difference over time, such as with accuracy. Pump regulators did not exist, so IVs were monitored and regulated by the time consuming process of frequently counting the drip rate sometimes for three IV solutions on one line! There were no unit doses of medications until much later. 5) Illness acuity levels increased as the years progressed, which ultimately resulted in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). As the acuity levels increased, various specialties were added (e.g., pediatric cardiologist, pediatric surgeon and oncologist). 6) A child life specialist program was added in the mid-to-late 1980’s to provide psychological and emotional support for the children and families. At about the same time, pet therapy was begun.

Shirlene enjoyed the rewards of taking care of children, who usually recovered rapidly. It was devastating when they did not recover, but even then there were “lessons to be learned” from those children and their families. A highlight was the camaraderie of the nurses who were like a second family and she still keeps in touch with many of them.

Shirlene is grateful for the learning opportunities afforded her by Boise State Junior College (later named Boise State University) and the hospital where she was included on hospital committees and team projects to ensure and improve the quality of patient care. She has been married 52 years and has 5 children: one lawyer, two engineers, one computer auditor and one home remodeler. Raising five children and working full time was a “busy time.” But, after retirement she and her husband were able to travel to Europe twice where they saw Germany, France and Switzerland.

Thanks, Shirlene for your dedicated service to nursing!