Susan Wilhelm (MS '94)

UWAANC Spotlight

woman with shorty wavy frosted hair, glasses, lime green shirt and black blazer

Early Career: Discovering her own needs unveils her nursing niche

Becoming a nurse was a passion for me since I was a young child. My first nursing position was in the float pool at Poudre Valley Health System (PVHS) in Fort Collins, Colorado. I was able to determine that medical-surgical nursing was not the ideal location for me, since I have a need to know my patients intimately. So I was hired into a labor/delivery night shift position three months after graduation and have been in the maternal-newborn field ever since.

College studies are not the end of learning

I quickly learned that in order to be a competent perinatal nurse you need to become proficient in all areas of this field. I took classes to learn how to be a transport nurse for high risk mothers and babies. I learned how to stabilize Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) infants. 

Discovering a love for teaching

I moved to Torrington, Wyoming in 1980. We only had six births a month there, so I was on call many shifts. I had the opportunity to teach Obstetrics (OB) nursing in a diploma program, and I have loved teaching nursing students the rest of my career. 

Hiatus and back to school

I did have a five-year hiatus being a nurse manager in a unit in Dallas while my husband went to seminary. I came back to Wyoming and started in the master’s weekend program at UW's School of Nursing. That was a wonderful experience for me, with mentors such as Sharron Humenick and Susie McKay [many of you will recognize those names of treasured UW nursing faculty!]. I then entered the doctoral program in adult learning and technology at UW, graduating in 2002.

More teaching and a research passion

I have taught many outreach classes to critical access hospitals in my region to help nurses be proficient in fetal monitoring and neonatal resuscitation. My research passion has been conducting interventions studies using motivational interviewing to promote sustained breastfeeding in rural, Hispanic and Native American mothers. My first grant funding was with Dr. Mary Beth Stepans [another name of former UW nursing faculty you all might recognize and treasure!] through an NIH BRIN grant.

I have been the Assistant Dean for the University of Nebraska College of Nursing in Scottsbluff, Nebraska (across the Wyoming boarder) for 12 years. I have been the Wyoming Section Chair for the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (WHONN) since the 1990’s. I have many fond memories of my times at UW.


Story posted 7/20/2017

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