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Getting to Know Dr. Anne McNamara, Former Academic President

Since joining Galen in 2015, I have gotten to know many of our students, teachers and administrators. Each individual brings something unique and special to nursing and nursing education. In this blog, I want to reach out, answer your questions, share my experiences, talk about new trends in the field and more.  

First, let’s get to know Dr. McNamara!

Who influenced you to be a nurse?

That’s an interesting question because I didn’t start out in nursing, and I didn’t have any family members who were in healthcare. I initially wanted to become a physical therapist.

I played sports in high school and, when I was injured, I worked with physical therapists. I admired them and started out to become a PT. So I went to a community college in Massachusetts. The plan was to do my first two years at the community college. Then, I would be eligible to apply to the University of Connecticut’s PT school as an in-state student. While I was taking the prerequisites – sciences and the liberal arts, very similar to nursing – I met a gentleman, and it was his mother who got me thinking about nursing. She was a nurse herself and told me, “Anything you want to do in physical therapy you can do in nursing.” As I got to know her, I switched my major. I went to a different community college and got my Associate Degree in Nursing.


What’s your best advice for new nursing students?

I would say to have a “teachable spirit” and then to trust what you’ve learned. Allow yourself to listen, and to not get defensive. If you make a mistake, accept the mistake and move on.

That advice isn’t only for new nursing students, but to anybody moving into a new position, especially to a new grad. I think there is always a period of time when you start a new job when you have to believe that you’re in the right position, with the right skill set. There’s a self-confidence you have to bring, even though it’s shaky. And it’s normal to be shaky. You have to give yourself time – three, six, nine months or more.

New nursing grads have had this fire hose of information that’s been given to them through their studies, and now they’re going to go out and actually apply it. So I tell them not to throw away their books, at least for that first year. They’re still going to be going back and referencing.


What is the greatest reward you’ve found in nursing?

It’s definitely the patient-family interaction. My first “tour of duty,” so to speak, was as a rehab nurse at a community hospital in Massachusetts. I very quickly became a charge nurse, and we would work with patients who had spinal cord injuries or strokes – devastating kinds of things. We worked with the whole family and helped them go through the grieving process and then get to a new level of acceptance of their loved one, who might now be in a wheelchair or may not be able to speak. That connection to the family and watching people progress are what I really enjoyed.


Just for Fun

Favorite TV show

I love watching all the college football teams. When I was growing up, we were very much a sports family, so we watched all the Boston teams. I still follow them – the Patriots, the Celtics, the Red Sox and the Bruins. When I moved to Arizona, they were just starting to get professional teams. But now I follow the Phoenix Suns, the Cardinals, the Diamondbacks and the Coyotes. I was there when the Diamondbacks won the World Series.

Other than football, right now, The Voice is one of my favorite shows.


Kentucky experiences

The people here are phenomenal, so open and welcoming. You can tell it’s genuine. And I’m enjoying living right downtown, so I’m getting to know the restaurants, which are amazing. I also got to attend the Oaks and Derby last year. I did some hat shopping and learned a valuable lesson: You definitely need a hat for each day, and cannot wear the same one twice!  


Last city visited

My sister in-law’s family is from a small fishing village in Southern Italy so I got to visit my brother and family there last summer. We visited the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and Pompeii. Seeing all that antiquity was really fun. And I enjoyed “becoming a local.” My brother speaks Italian, so we could take the train and go and really hang out with the locals.


Guilty pleasures

Going to the movies by myself can be a guilty pleasure. It’s like “I’m going to have two hours and nobody can find me and nobody will know what I’m doing. And that’s okay.”

Another one is good food. I love trying different things. Knowing when to stop is the problem!

Galen College of Nursing

Faculty, staff, and administrative departments of Galen College of Nursing.