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Denise MacDonald: compassionate care in the classroom

In 1981, the ink still wet on her nursing diploma, Denise MacDonald thought that was the end of her education and the beginning of her career. Over the years, MacDonald worked in hospital, home health, hospice and long-term care. She later returned to school to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and later a master’s degree in nursing education and continued her service to others by advocating for persons with intellectual disabilities and teaching young protégés how to become compassionate caretakers and healthcare providers.

These days MacDonald finds herself in the throes of her doctoral dissertation in nursing education, juggling a full time teaching schedule, consultant duties, online adjunct faculty obligations and two teenage boys.

"Thirty years ago, I was perfectly happy with what I was doing," MacDonald said. "The more nursing experience I developed, the more I realized education is an everyday part of a nurse’s life. I found myself educating nurses and families on how to understand diagnoses and what they need to do. I thought the better we can educate people, the better they can take care of themselves. And now I think the better we can educate nurses, the better they will be."

MacDonald is not new to Minot State University. She taught in the nursing department from 2004 to 2006 and was adjunct faculty from 2006 to 2009, while working for REM North Dakota, where she developed clinical sites in developmental disabilities group homes for students in pediatrics.

Her new responsibilities involve teaching Adult Health 1 & 2, where she educates upper level nursing students about the intricacies and protocol in caring for patients with acute and chronic illnesses. In addition to intensive classroom lectures, MacDonald conducts an eight hour clinical once a week with students at Trinity Hospital, where they learn total patient care in a real-world environment.

"I really like being back at MSU. The nursing faculty is open to new ideas and different methods to improve student education," said MacDonald. "The department is forward thinking and searches for ways to expand and enhance student learning. MSU Nursing department is going in the right direction."

"It is rewarding helping students realize they can make a difference," she added.