University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing faculty member Debora Retz passed away at her home in Cheyenne, Wyoming on February 13, 2013 following a courageous battle with cancer. Retz was an assistant lecturer at the school since 2008. Her funeral services were Monday, February 18 in Cheyenne.
Debora Retz graduated from East High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming and began her nursing career as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at Mountain Towers. In 1975 she obtained her Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) education from Laramie County Community College (LCCC), and progressed to her associate degree in nursing at LCCC in 1979. She was awarded her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) in 2004 and her Masters in Nursing Education in 2008, both from the University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing (UW FWWSON) - all while battling breast cancer.
Deb spent 33 years of her career working in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center (CRMC). She added teaching to her nursing career by becoming a nursing tutor for the LCCC ADN program in 2001, progressing to clinical instructor and adjunct faculty for LCCC in 2005, and then to assistant lecturer at the UW FWWSON in 2008. At UW, Retz taught Acute Care, Adult Health, Foundations in Nursing, and Assessment Lab. Retz also supervised nursing students working in clinicals at CRMC. Last summer she wrote the following about her two passions - working at CRMC and teaching students: "I am privileged to have had the honor of working for CRMC for 33 years. I can tell you that the Telemetry, Cardiac Catheterization Lab, ICU, and OR staff are wonderful to work with and are very pro-student. They go out of their way to share knowledge about their specific area and to look for learning opportunities for the students. The physicians are incredible teachers. The cardiologists, the cardiac surgeon and the anesthesiologists all spend a lot of time with students, assuring the best clinical experience possible."
Retz always sought to give students the best hands-on experiences and critical thinking activities possible. She was a hard teacher, expecting excellence from herself as well as from her students. She was loved by many and was chosen "Top Prof" by the Cap and Gown Chapter of Mortar Board for two of the four years she taught at UW. The following student's comments exemplify how many students felt about Retz: "I would like to take a moment to say how much I will always treasure Deb Retz's teaching and instruction. She will always be a shining example of the continual support I receive every day from the instructors here at the School of Nursing. I will never forget how Deb would sit with me after every Adult Health quiz and tutor me through the NCLEX questions. I will never forget how she believed in me."
Faculty and staff alike enjoyed Retz as a colleague, particularly fond of her unique sense of humor, and admiring of her perseverance and bravery as she battled a recurrence of the cancer late fall and into the spring semester, still making her way to campus to teach. Says Mary Burman, Dean of the UW FWWSON: "Deb Retz had a passion for nursing and nursing education, and her commitment to active learning as a means to developing clinical reasoning are a model for us all."