Pin Donor: Nancy Dextrom ’66
Nancy Dextrom ’66 was in high school when she had the opportunity to work in the business office of a small community hospital in northern Wisconsin for two summers. “In my daily contacts, I was enthralled with the nurse who administratively was in charge of the hospital,” she says. “After two summers, I decided that I would become a nurse and model myself after her unique traits.”
After graduating from the School of Nursing and getting married, Dextrom and her husband served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. Upon returning to the United States, she worked as a staff nurse for the Visiting Nurse Service, Veterans Administration, and a small community hospital in Wisconsin. From there, she moved to Michigan in 1975 and began an administrative track that opened the door to new opportunities, including assistant director of nurses, patient education coordinator, associate chief of nursing education, director of med/surg nursing, and eventually CEO of the Rogers City Rehabilitation Hospital.
“I have always enjoyed new opportunities to learn new roles as a nurse,” Dextrom adds. “Leadership roles require advanced skills. I have never been satisfied with the status quo and have always been focused on raising standards for nurses as well as the entire workforce.”
Like Dextrom, Maica Ho began her nursing journey in high school. “I grew up always wanting a career in health care,” she says. “In high school, I decided to become a certified nursing assistant in an assisted living facility/nursing home as part of this pursuit. Through the memorable relationships I developed with my residents, I not only felt fulfilled but also realized that I am well suited to caring for people in this capacity. The experience helped shape my path into nursing.”
Throughout her journey as an undergraduate in the traditional BSN program, Ho has been actively involved in Delta Phi Lambda, helping to promote, educate, and inform the student-body on Asian awareness, empowering women leaders, and advocating for social justice and environmental awareness. She has also been involved in the Vietnamese Student Association, helping to execute fundraisers to support the philanthropic work of building schools for children in Vietnam.
In addition, Ho has held significant roles in the School of Nursing as well as the surrounding community. As she has worked towards dual degrees in nursing and human development and family studies, she has held down four jobs and is actively involved in the multicultural community. All these extracurricular efforts have helped fuel her passion for contributing to health systems through actively seeking opportunities around her.
Her hard work in the classroom has earned her Dean’s List honors throughout her academic career at UW–Madison. A member of the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing, she notes that her time at the School of Nursing has helped her develop an interest in patient advocacy. “Through nursing school, I developed a great passion for advocacy-related work and refined my skills to provide individualized care to patients across their lifespan. The School of Nursing helped challenge me to become a better nurse leader, and I will continue this work through the nurse residency program at the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine at University Hospital post-graduation.”
Ho will receive her pin from Dextrom, who chose to donate her pin because she appreciates the meaning behind the tradition. When asked what advice she has for graduates, Dextrom reflects, “Nursing is a lifelong learning experience since there are so many jobs that require you to learn more.”
For Ho, the pin holds significance because it symbolizes what she admires most about the nursing profession. “Nursing is a combination of both tradition and innovation,” she says. “The profession has an extensive history and has evolved through the efforts and drive of individuals and institutions with the common goal of providing compassionate care. As the world changes and our patients’ needs change to suit, there is a need for leadership and collaboration to address emerging challenges. In this context, I hope to continue my current research and clinical work to positively impact my community.”