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Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

College of Health Sciences

Mary Kay Goetter: Alumni Update

2016 update on career of Mary Kay Goetter, 2005 Distinguished Alumna

An already full career continues to mushroom

Mary Kay Goetter, 2004 MS Program alumna from the University of Wyoming and 2005 UW Nursing Distinguished Alumna, didn't find her career culminating with the position as executive director for the Wyoming State Board of Nursing. Anything but! Goetter continued on to two concurrent, equally demanding positions as executive director of the Maryland State Board of Nursing and as nurse scientist assigned to the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine.

Backtracking: Executive Director, Maryland State Board of Nursing

In February of 2014, Goetter returned to Cheyenne, Wyoming from a nearly 7-month deployment in Afghanistan with the military and "had need of a job," she says. "A colleague was retiring from Maryland, knew of my experience at Wyoming State Board of Nursing [as executive director prior to her military deployment] and encouraged me to apply." Goetter began her new position as Maryland State Board of Nursing's executive director in November of 2014.

Asked how that position compared with the same at Wyoming, Goetter replies, "It is phenomenally larger than Wyoming, but many of the issues and concerns are the same. Nursing regulation is a true challenge and a great fit for my skill set and experience." 

The differences/similarities between Wyoming and Maryland nursing? Goetter discusses several:

  • Numbers
    "The biggest difference is sheer numbers," says Goetter. "Where Wyoming State Board of Nursing (WSBON) had a total of approximately 15,000 licensees when I left in 2012, Maryland has 20 times that amount."

  • Full Practice Authority
    "Maryland Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are still amending the practice act for full practice authority that Wyoming has already had for years," notes Goetter, "although they have made great strides in just the 2 years I've been here (changes were already in the works and had nothing to do with me!)."

  • Rurality
    Goetter didn't expect rurality issues in Maryland: "Surprisingly, Maryland struggles with many of the same issues of rurality on the Eastern Shore that concerns Wyoming. I often think of the rural nursing focus in my master's program [at the University of Wyoming] and how much it opened my eyes to the unique challenges of rural nursing and problems of access for individuals who live in more remote areas."

  • New Nursing Grad Transition to Practice/NCLEX Licensure
    "Maryland is blessed with a plethora of higher learning institutions focusing on many nursing specialties and academic medicine that produce many nurses," states Goetter, "but the problems of new graduate transition to practice and the frenzy to pass NCLEX and get licensed immediately are much the same!"

A Dual Focus: Add in Nurse Scientist, United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine

Goetter's career at the Maryland State BON is only part of what takes up her time, attention and expertise. Goetter is also a nurse scientist (reserve), assigned to the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM). In that role, she was recently selected to attend the Asia Pacific Military Health Exchange in Kuantan, Malaysia, where she was able to meet and mingle with over 400 attendees from 28 countries in the Indo-Asian region of the world. Goetter discusses her assignment:

"My goal was to make connections with these military health care providers in order to conduct research for the USAFSAM. We are interested in learning how our military counterparts train for disaster preparedness in their respective countries. The issues of climate change put all of this region of the world at an increased risk of disasters. Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response (HADR) is a crucial area of interest for USAFSAM and my individual section, Aeromedical Evacuation and Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT). A necessary first step is doing a program evaluation to see how we all train for disasters and examine areas of commonality as well as differences."

Goetter's Passion: Advocating for Advanced Education for All Nurses

When asked to share her passion, Goetter shared something that should excite the nurse educators in Wyoming, who are charging forward with ReNEW this year (Revolutionizing Nursing Education in Wyoming):

"My passion? Promoting a higher level of professionalism for nurses, whatever their position or wherever they live. Advocating for advanced education for all nurses, no matter their present employment position or what they think they need to do the job in front of them. Encouraging nurses to pursue master's and doctoral-level education, particularly research degrees that will allow nurses to build the science of our own profession. Everyone espouses the desire for and value of evidence-based practice but we are still at only ~1% of the profession holding a PhD. Where will the evidence come from if we are not continually adding to the body of knowledge and science of nursing?" 

Plans for the Future?

Goetter responds, "The first thing that comes to mind is to live near where I can ski and enjoy the abundance of nature! I have no desire to retire, but I hope to find a space in my life where I can play and travel more (for pleasure!) with my husband while continuing to practice...believe it or not, I would love to work as a staff nurse again. The beauty of nursing is the limitless possibilities to serve, care, and work."


Story posted 8/10/2016


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