Faculty voice:

Judy Strunk: A nurse's delivery 27 years later

May 4, 2016

Judy Strunk is a doctor of nursing practice, registered nurse and instructor in MSU’s College of Nursing.

Occasionally things happen in life that make you feel you are where you are meant to be. This happened to me on our second day of maternal-child clinical at a Detroit hospital. As part of an icebreaker activity, I shared with my eight students where I started my nursing career (neonatal intensive care) 38 years ago and my subsequent positions in nursing.

After spending 10 years in NICU, my husband and I moved to the Cadillac, Michigan, area. I began working in the obstetrics unit in June 1988. One of my students, Kristin Sorensen, said, “I was born at that hospital, and my mom has a picture of me being held with a group of nurses.” I told her, “Check the picture, I might be in it as I was still orienting to OB at that time.”

The second week of clinical Kristin said, “Judy, I have a picture to show you.” When I looked at the picture, I was holding the baby, who is now my student in the classroom and in the clinical setting 27 years later.

My assignment is usually three clinical groups at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, so it is unusual that I was assigned to a Detroit hospital. Also, Kristin is an accelerated second degree BSN student, so she had a prior career not involving nursing. In addition, there are more than 100 students in the class and I teach clinical to only 24 of them. It is so unlikely that I would now have a student that I had cared for as a newborn in a small rural hospital in Northern Michigan 27 years ago.

Working with new mothers and babies is my passion in the clinical area. Beyond that, sharing my passion with undergraduate nursing students is such an honor. Teaching nursing students how to “think like a nurse” and respond appropriately is what I love to do. There is such growth in students in 15 weeks, from not knowing anything about mother/baby care and labor and delivery to being able to competently care for a new mom and her baby.

There is nothing more satisfying than watching them become “the nurse” who is able to take care of the new family. I feel so blessed to be teaching these bright young women and men in an area of nursing that I am so passionate about.

Reprinted with permission from the MSU College of Nursing