Past Featured Alumni
Although Mary McMahon, C'76 lived in a Colorado community that had a reputable nursing program, she decided to attend nursing school at Mount Marty because her great aunt, Kathleen A. Darcy, was an attorney in Yankton. At an early age, she had wanted to be a lawyer like Auntie Kay, but it was because of her grandfather who always hoped one of his granddaughters would be a nurse, that she decided instead to study nursing. Even today, Mary clearly remembers her first visit to campus as a pre-teen, with her great aunt and grandparents, who lived in Spalding, NE. She states that MMC provided a unique experience as a small Catholic school that was "isolated", yet connected. Although she lived on- campus all four years, she felt like a member of both the college and the local community. This helped her realize the importance of giving back as a volunteer and staying connected with the college in the Yankton community as well. Mary has many positive memories of Yankton and MMC, from her work study position at the library to the clinical opportunities at Sacred Heart Hospital. Of course, on her last visit to Yankton just over two years ago with a fellow alum who also lives in Colorado, their first stop was Charlie's Pizza. She states that the pizza and the atmosphere were much better than her memory!
Mary didn't join the Army right out of college, like many of her colleagues. Just days after her graduation she started work at a 16 bed hospital in Estes Park, CO. Working the night shift with an LPN and an aide, she quickly learned how to run a very busy 3 bed ER and acute care facility. Mary was soon promoted to be an OR nurse which also meant attending all the births, which averaged about 30 per year. After two years of living in the mountains, she took a position in a busy OB department in Fort Collins, where the deliveries were about 200 babies per month.
With her eyes set on becoming a certified nurse midwife, Mary joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1979. Since she had three years nursing experience, she was commissioned as a 1st L.T. After attending Officer's Orientation for five weeks, she was assigned as an obstetrics nurse initially at Fort Knox, KY and later at Ft. Carson, CO. While in the Army, she contributed to the Veterans Education Assistance Plan (VEAP), which later funded her master's education. After an honorable discharge from the Army, Mary returned to the OB department at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, CO, participated in the Individual Ready Reserves for three years and was promoted to Major in the Army Nurse Corps. As her career progressed, she realized that the role of a certified nurse midwife would not be conducive to her family life, so she completed a masters degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Community Health Nursing in 1984.
Mary's first nursing job post masters was in one of the smallest hospitals in Colorado and after a variety of opportunities and many years, she was eventually employed at the hospital licensed for the most inpatient beds in Colorado. Mary is currently employed as the Clinical Nurse Specialist at National Jewish Hospital in Denver, a hospital with a large ambulatory focus, including international patients and supposedly the lowest daily inpatient census in the U.S.! She currently works in Nursing Informatics, transforming health care through technology.
In addition to working in diverse hospital settings, Mary's professional interactions have occurred in homes, classrooms, on line, in ambulances and in a MASH unit. Along the path, she has been an Army nurse, a bedside nurse, an operating room nurse, a home health nurse, a childbirth educator, a nursing instructor, a clinical manager, and a nursing director. Mary was honored to be selected as one of six Colorado Nightingale recipients in 2009. To be nominated to this prestigious award by her coworkers was flattering; being selected as a recipient among all the nurses in Colorado, was very humbling.
Volunteer participation in professional organizations has been an important aspect in Mary's nursing career as well. As a new member of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN, previously NAACOG) in 1985, her first accomplishment was to start a chapter in her own community. After serving in numerous leadership positions for the organization, she was elected to serve on the national Board of Directors as the Secretary Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee 2010-11. This coming year, Mary will be speaking at the Idaho AWHONN section conference on Asthma during Pregnancy and Lactation. Additional volunteer activities she participates in are many, including being a member of the Board of Directors for the University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing Alumni Association since 2004. She also serves as the 2013-14 Chair-Elect for the Healthcare Committee for Colorado Health Care Information Management System Society (CHIMSS).
Mary is very thankful for the strong foundation on which she has built her career, including both her education at Mount Marty and the years she served as an officer in the Army Nurse Corps, for which we thank and applaud her. Although her career has progressed with accomplishments and titles, these aren't as important as what her nursing profession has helped her become. Although she hopes to be active supporting future nurses, she sees her current position as her last employed role. Most importantly, she sees herself as an ethical, compassionate and caring nurse who has contributed much to improving the lives of others and making a difference, her most notable accomplishment.