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The Positive Impact of Spartan Nurses

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Every day, MSU graduates around the globe work in their respective fields to improve the communities in which they live. The Spartan network is vast and powerful, and alumni make a positive impact on those around them each and every day. As a top-ranked program with over 192 graduate students currently enrolled, Michigan State’s College of Nursing prepares its students to provide the best possible healthcare to patients and support them during whatever challenges life may present for them.

For Pamela Jones, a Spartan graduate and employee of the Michigan State University Alumni Office, her nurses were instrumental in the process of giving birth to her son, Calvin, who experienced complications and needed to remain in the intensive care unit.

“Having worked in the College of Nursing, I know firsthand how incredible Spartan Nurses are,” said Pamela. “However, we recently had a personal experience with two Spartan nurses who impacted our lives during a very vulnerable time. We met both Abby and Stephanie after giving birth to our son and he immediately needed to be taken to the RNICU for extra care. We were so incredibly grateful to have them both with us through the entire experience. They are passionate about nursing and love being in the RNICU. They were so incredibly supportive of our family and we have kept in touch with them both”.

Abby Semmler, who has been a nurse for over three years, describes her experience working with the Jones family, “It is always such a joy to work with parents who are so involved in their child’s care. There are few things I can imagine being better than seeing a child improve and be able to go home with his parents. I was able to celebrate every achievement, every ounce gained, every good feeding, every good night- not only with my patient, but his family as well. To see the joy and pride in their faces when their little man had a good day was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a neonatal nurse. The RNICU is a place that no parent ever wants to have to visit, and can be a terrifying, isolating, overwhelming experience. While my job is caring for the tiniest of humans, I also get to care for their parents, and do my very best to try and be a calm in the storm for them”.


Abby graduated from the College of Nursing in 2015.  During her time there, the program armed her with skills for success in her field that went beyond technical requirements, such as time management, critical thinking, and utilizing current evidence-based practices in everyday care, which she describes as vital to working in an intensive care unit.


When asked why she became a nurse and what made her choose MSU, Abby stated, “I wanted to become a nurse to help make a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to be able to help people feel better and be there for them during some of their most difficult days. I chose MSU because of the strength of their program and their focus on serving the community”. During her clinical rotation, Abby had an opportunity to observe for a few hours in the RNICU, which ultimately shaped her choice to become a neonatal nurse. “I had always had an interest in working with kids or infants, but being able to see the work that was done in the RNICU opened my eyes to a whole new world. That single day of clinical ignited a passion in my soul that I never dreamed possible. After that day, I knew that I would want to work toward a career as a neonatal nurse”.

Stephanie Short has been a nurse for over 25 years and graduated from the College of Nursing in 1992. She describes her career as, “A profession where you are humbled every day” and stated that, “This is my passion and where I feel my best. There is not a day that goes by where I haven't learned something new, regarding direct patient clinical care, communication skills with parents/medical team, or my direct coworkers. What I have learned in nursing is that there is never a ‘comfortable’ time. We are always learning and growing”.

Stephanie stated that her professors helped to shape her interests and experiences during her time at MSU, “Jackie Wright was a professor I had in community health. I loved her. We went out into the community to learn about people’s living situations, mostly moms with newborns who were navigating difficult socioeconomic situations as well as newborn care. At the time, I was maybe 19. On my evaluation, she had marked me down for my "lack of assertiveness" with the mothers. It was a bit of a wake-up call in terms of my responsibility as a caregiver to come— learning to be assertive has helped me to better advocate for my patients”.

Regarding her experience working with Pamela’s case, Stephanie described, “Once Pamela was discharged, she needed to be able to trust the RNICU nurses to care for Calvin as she would and be able to report any changes to the medical team-- there is a bond with the family. They need to be able to go home and rest knowing their baby is receiving the best possible help. Having Abby and myself at the bedside most days and nights caring for him gave reassurance to his family. The relationship between nurse and patient is special, and it is something I cherish and feel a privilege to be a part of every single time”.

Abby and Stephanie are amazing examples of the Spartans at work each and every day to improve their communities and the lives of those within them. Thanks to nurses like them, the Jones family and thousands of others are able to bring home happy, healthy new members of their houses. With alumni like Abby and Stephanie in the workforce seeking out new ways to best succeed and serve in their fields, it is clear that Spartans Will. make a difference in the world around them.

Author: Paula Davenport