1977 Nursing Grad reflects on full career

young woman as nurse grad contrasted with same woman following her career

Spotlight on 1977 nursing graduate Theresa L. Turner, now Lyn Cyr

Lyn Cyr (1977 graduate "Theresa L. Turner") contacted the school recently to see how she might get in touch with graduates from her class of 1977. Before replying, we went down the hall to the area of the school where we hang the graduating composite pictures of each class. Turning through the heavy iron-framed wall composites, we view class sizes varying anywhere from a handful of 6 students in 1955 to our normal cap of 48 in our traditional Basic BSN program. But Cyr's 1977 class was unusual, sporting 58 men and women graduates. We took a picture of the class composite and sent it to Cyr.

"Oh my, this brings back so many wonderful memories," remarked Cyr. "I remember sitting at graduation wondering what it would be like when I had been a nurse 25 years, and now it has been 40 almost!!! So many adventures, so many patients, so much pain and so much joy. What a gift!!"

Below we have listed some excerpts from Cyr's memories. Enjoy!


"My goal is to retire on May 12, 2017. That is exactly 40 years from graduating as an RN.  Now I know what it will be like when I have been a nurse for all those years." - Lyn Cyr

Favorite memories about nursing school.

The thing I loved most about Nursing School was the sense of camaraderie we all shared. My best friend Peggy and I would spend hours in the Science Library studying and making up stupid songs or rhymes to help us remember what we were learning. We were all in the same boat, trying to learn all we needed to know AND do care plans on top.

I really enjoyed learning how the human body works. It is such a miracle. I have always said that the more I learned about science, the more I believed in God. Our bodies are absolutely amazing. It was fascinating and awe-inspiring to learn about how things work at the cellular/molecular level then see how everything works together as a whole person. This is one of the reasons I believe a Bachelor's Degree is so important. I think being able to understand the whole intricate picture and make the connections as to what is going on is at the core of what professional nurses need to do. 

Cyr's nursing career.

"All told, I have worked in 9 different states."

As far as my career has gone, I must preface by saying that while growing up on the Wind River Reservation in Riverton, my one goal was to see what the rest of the United States was like. I was an avid reader and wanted to see as much as I could of the places I had read about. Nursing has afforded me the ability to realize that dream. I have had so many nursing licenses. from Washington to Massachusetts and Texas to Montana.

From L&D to Theology to Psych nursing to Hospice.

12 years in Women's Healthcare:
I started out at Ivinson Memorial Hospital right there in Laramie. The first 12 years I worked mainly in women’s healthcare. I worked in every aspect from L and D [Labor and Delivery] to Planned Parenthood.I worked in Denver, at LDS hospital in Salt Lake and then moved to Boston and worked at Brigham and Women’s. It was exciting to see all the very best in fertility work and also eye opening to think about the ethics involved.

Because of my work in Women’s Healthcare, I chose to do my Master’s in Theology. My experience led me to realize that what people believed about God made a huge difference in how they made decisions about health care and in how they dealt with the human experiences of life and death. I studied at Episcopal Divinity School in Boston, receiving my Master’s with a Special Competency in Pastoral Counseling and a General Competency in Ethics.

Psych Nursing:
[In nursing school at UW,] our summer semester in Evanston helped me to solidify the interest I felt when I took my first Psychology class. After I graduated, I started work in the field of Mental Health. I obtained a Clinical Specialty in Adult Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing and so was able to have a private practice for some years while I lived in upstate New York. I love psych nursing!!! My favorite job was working in a school for emotionally disturbed children. I was a therapist and the psych nurse there. It was so much fun, and I felt like I was truly making a difference in those kids' lives. They were absolutely my heroes. They would come to school everyday, sometimes with no sleep because of the fighting or drug use at home. They really wanted a different life.

I worked in Hospice for 3 years and felt that, besides Labor and Delivery, Hospice was the most precious time in my career. It was such an honor to be present with patients and their families as they took the final step in life. Surprisingly, there was much laughter and joy as people felt free to enjoy and really live their final months. 

In retrospect, doubts dissolved through fulfillment

At present I am an Assessment Specialist for one of the psych hospitals in the town where I live. I feel I have been most effective doing what I have always loved--making connections with people.

But there were doubts:
- There have been times in my life when I really didn’t want to be a nurse
- When I questioned whether I was doing all I could be doing.
- There were times I wished I had continued to Medical School as I originally planned, or had become a Psychologist.
- I have often struggled with the notion that I should have gone into the ministry.

But, now, looking back, it is Nursing that has given me the opportunities I wanted as an adolescent and young adult. I have been able to raise my son by myself. I was able to find a job I enjoyed everywhere I moved.When I was working in Hospice, I realized that through my whole career, I had been doing what had drawn me to “minister”. I have been able to journey with people when they were at their most vulnerable. My career has been my ministry and I have had the rare opportunity of being present at the beginning and at the end. I feel honored to have had the chance to meet every patient and spend the time I was given to spend with them.


posted 2-9-2016

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