September 24, 2004
More than 80 participants joined in the University of Maine at Fort Kent's first ever nursing alumni and friends day held during the recent "Come to Campus Days" celebration on the St. John Valley campus.
The event was sponsored by the UMFK division of nursing and the nursing honor society. Students, alumni, faculty, nurses, community members as well as guests from UMFK's sister campus, the Université de Moncton in Edmundston, were in attendance for tours of the campus, a walk down memory lane brunch featuring keynote speaker Dr. Betty Neuman, and workshops by Dorothy King and Virginia Pinkham.
Also as part of the day-long activities, all UMFK nursing alumni and a former faculty member, Kathy Heil-Plourde, were recognized for their roles in the evolution of the program which began in 1981. Rachael Albert, director of the nursing division and associate professor of nursing and herself a member of the first BSN class to graduate from the program in 1985, honored the distinguished guests.
Keynote speaker Dr. Betty Neuman, a University of Maine System visiting Libra Professor, a scholar and a noted nursing theorist, helped to reaffirm what it means to be a nurse in her address to attendees.
Neuman is recognized as a pioneer in the field of nursing involvement in community mental health.
She began developing "the Neuman Model" while lecturing on community mental health at UCLA. The Neuman Systems model was originally developed in 1970, with the goal to provide a holistic overview of the physiological, psychological, sociocultural, and developmental aspects of human beings.
In 1972, after a two-year evaluation, her model was first published as a "Model for teaching total person approach to patient problems" in Nursing Research.
At UMFK, Neuman emphasized the importance of remaining connected to one's patients, particularly as increasing technology threatens the ability to offer holistic nursing care.
Members of the audience were touched as much by her remarks as by her contribution to the nursing profession, and they rose to give Dr. Neuman a standing ovation upon the completion of her presentation.
"It truly was an inspiration to actually meet a nurse who has created such an important theory that we utilize in practice today. It was also a real honor to meet someone who is so well-educated and respected in the field of nursing. I believe that is what professional nursing is all about," said Melissa Dufresne, and RN-BSN student from Caribou.
Ashland residents Dorothy King and Virginia Pinkham, both retired nurses, shared their own experiences as nursing students and practicing nurses during a workshop session following the brunch.
King graduated from the diploma program at Mount Sinai Hospital in 1953. Her subsequent career was filled with a variety of clinical and administrative nursing experiences that took her across the country and the world.
She encouraged the students to consider administration as a nursing specialty, and not to be daunted by the challenges they would face in maintaining their integrity as professional nurses.
Pinkham graduated in 1947 from the BSN program at Cornell University. Her skills as a public health nurse were well utilized when she found herself living in the Maine woods with her husband, where she attended to the health, first aid, and tertiary care needs of others who were living and working in such a remote area.
Glen Pelletier of Fort Kent, a junior nursing student, shared how touched he felt by Neuman and by the contributions shared by King and Pinkham. Another nursing student Ron Tardif of Madawaska, attended the event with his 83-year-old mother, who was herself a former nurse.
"Our nursing alumni and friend's day proved to be a really rich day, and the contributions of our guests warmed many of the people who came. Students are telling me how much it meant for them to be here," said Albert.