Ginger Turck

Veteran Marine Nurses a Dream

After a long journey, Ginger Turck graduates with a BSN on Saturday

Ginger Turck’s journey across the Weidner Center stage on Saturday, Dec. 14 for UW-Green Bay Commencement will be just like any other graduate. But few others have made more stops along the way.

This mother of three, Marine Corps veteran with a Business Administration degree (also from UW-Green Bay) already on her resume´—now earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)—may be the most traditional non-traditional student participating in the University’s 100th commencement ceremony, Saturday.

“She went through a long journey to be a BSN,” says Assistant Prof. of Nursing, Myunghee Jun. But Turck’s journey isn’t measured in miles—but in time and challenges.

Turck grew up a self-described “Tomboy” in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee, working in landscaping during the summers and began college 1995. She admits at the time she was more into volleyball than study hall. Originally attending college as a walk-on for the women’s volleyball team Turck soon realized “my heart wasn’t into college at this time which was reflected in my grades.”

“My parents said that if I was going to leave school, I would have to find something else to do.” So she enlisted in the Marines. “They say it was the hardest boot camp, so let’s see.” (Plus, only eight-percent of all active enlisted Marines are female, the lowest ratio in all of the U.S. military branches.) And the toughest part of boot camp? “Being away from home for three months and Parris Island sand fleas.”

It was later in field training when life handed her a lemon in the form of a hand-grenade. And this advice to anyone contemplating a similar experience—“Never throw a hand-grenade like a baseball.”

Turck was taught the correct over-the-shoulder technique, but kept throwing short of the target. “On my last try, I had an ‘I’m-going-to-show-you moment,’ so I launched it. Something didn’t feel right. I hit my target, but tore my shoulder.”

Ironically, it was that injury that would eventually lead her to nursing and her advocation to work in a VA clinic. Turck was separated from her reserve unit, which was activated and sent to Iraq in 2003 for Operation Enduring Freedom. She returned to Green Bay as an active reservist but saw her civilian prospects landing her back into landscaping. But her commanding officer offered a bit of advice. “My captain told me I should do something else besides digging dirt and suggested school.”

In 2006, Turck was medically separated from the Marine Corps and was sent to the Milwaukee VA for evaluation of her continuing shoulder/wrist problems. Her biggest problem? Being a woman in the VA healthcare system. “I would go into my appointment and staff would look at me and ask ‘Where’s the veteran? He needs to check in himself,’ seemingly confused as many said they had never treated a woman veteran before.”

With a second chance at college, now married (to a fellow Marine), Turck graduated from UW-Green Bay with a degree in Business Administration (Management and Finance) in 2008. And this time, she credits her professors with putting her “heart back into learning.”

This time odd timing was just bad timing—she hit the streets with a fresh degree and into the teeth of the great recession. Finding it impossible to find a job in banking in finance, she returned to landscaping and worked as a correctional officer, while trying to rehabilitate her shoulder and her career. The bottom may have been when she temporary job as took a brief job as a test examiner. “I knew I wanted more in life” she remembers.

Turck was accepted into Vocational Rehab through the VA, began nursing school at the Rasmussen College School of Nursing and graduated as a registered nurse (RN) in 2016. But fate was not finished throwing her curve balls. Her first nursing job was at an extended care facility that soon closed its doors.

“Nursing did not start out well” She admits. And this college graduate, Marine veteran, professional landscaping, correctional officer, long-term care facility nurse and mother of three needed a break—both emotionally and professionally. She was accepted into UW-Green Bay’s RN to BSN program, designed for associate degree registered nurses looking to advance their career. She decided not to work while in school, but still life beyond the classroom presented its own challenges.

“Shortly, after beginning classes my maternal grandma’s health began declining so I helped where I could, studied when I could as my mom, who had previously helped babysit, was spending her time at appointments and in hospitals with my grandma.” Her grandmother passed away on August 19, 2018, the same day as her late stepdad’s birthday and her wedding anniversary. Turck would also say good-bye to her paternal grandmother in 2019.

But true to her Marine spirit, Turck did not retreat. “In January 2019, I gave birth to our third son at 5 a.m. and much like the birth of my first child in 2014, I again was online to introduce myself for my next nursing class that also began that day.”

It was also time to make peace with VA through both a clinical placement during the summer 2019 semester, and as a patient at the Milo C. Huempfner Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, which neighbors the UW-Green Bay campus.

“Throughout my time at the Green Bay clinic I have never been overlooked as being the veteran, nor forgotten as a patient.”  Or a woman, for that matter. “When I went there for treatment for my shoulder, I had to bring my one-year-old  son with me. He was crying, so my doctor held him the whole time during my examination.”

And as for what future holds, Turck sees a life still filled with challenges, but perhaps fewer holes.

“With any hope, there will soon arise a chapter called Milo C. Huempfner VA Clinic nurse and veteran patient advocate Ginger Turck, RN, BSN.”


Associate Lecturer Herdman inducted into American Academy of Nursing

UW-Green Bay Associate Lecturer Heather Herdman (Nursing and Health Studies) was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing in Washington, D.C. in October. Selection to the Academy is considered the highest honor in American nursing. Herdman was inducted into the 2019 Class of New Fellows with 230 other highly distinguished leaders in nursing. The Academy is comprised of about 2800 Fellows worldwide. Herdman was one of three Wisconsin nurses to be inducted this year.

Unique collaboration with health professionals from Azerbaijan

UW-Green Bay was the first stop for a delegation of health professionals from Azerbaijan visiting Green Bay from Oct. 12 to 18, 2019. Chris Vandenhouten (chair of Nursing and Health Studies), Brian Krogh (associate dean of Nursing at NWTC) and Dean Susan Gallagher-Lepak (Collegeof Health, Education and Social Welfare) greeted the five visitors—all care clinicians or nursing educators in Azerbaijan—along with a facilitator and translator on Oct. 14 and provided a Nursing Education 101—an overview of terms and processes they would hear about before delving into a week of hands-on learning about nursing education and practices in the U.S.

The program was delivered by healthcare professionals from UW-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Bellin College, Medical College of Wisconsin, Unity Hospice, HSHS Children’s Hospital-St. Vincent campus and Oneida Nation and included hands-on experience and tours of educational and health care facilities as well as a panel discussion with leaders from major health care education institutions.

The goal of the visit, sponsored by Green Bay West Rotary and the Open World Leadership Center, an agency of the U.S. Congress, was for our visitors to learn about nursing education practices, as well as build lasting connections to their counterparts in the U.S. for an ongoing exchange of information.

Rotarians Rick Beverstein (UW-Green Bay Council of Trustee member) and Jeane Smits ’00. Social Change and Development) coordinated the health care curriculum with Gallagher-Lepak. Rotarian Joy Wick (executive director of Advancement at UW-Green Bay) assisted with public relations. Green Bay West Rotary Club, founded in 1974, is committed to serving local, national and international communities, with special focus on youth and increasing international cooperation and understanding.

The photo (submitted) shows five of the delegates and translator from Azerbaijan along with Vandenhouten, Krogh and Gallagher-Lepak. 


Faculty note: Gallagher-Lepak and Herdman give three-day workshop on Clinical Reasoning in Nursing in Romania

College of Health, Education and Social Welfare Dean Susan Gallagher-Lepak and Assistant Prof. Heather Herdman (Nursing) gave a three-day workshop on Clinical Reasoning in Nursing on Sept. 12 to 14, 2019 in Bucharest, Romania. The workshop was sponsored by the Romanian Nurses Association and the Nurses Association of Moldova. It was attended by nurses, nursing educators and nurse administrators.

In Romania, nurses are part of all structures of the Romanian health services system and are the largest group of healthcare workers. Educational pathways for nurses include both three-year (Nursing College) and four-year (University) programs. The four-year option was started in 2003 in compliance with Romania’s EU accession agreement. Romania offers universal healthcare to all citizens.


Faculty note: Collaboration between faculty (Zhu, Reilly, Olson Hunt, Horvarter) leads to publication

An eight-year span of data collection, two years of data analysis, and hard work over summer 2019 resulted in a collaborative publication by Associate Prof. Janet Reilly (Nursing), Associate Prof. Le Zhu (Human Biology), Associate Prof. Megan Olson Hunt (Mathematics & Statistics), Senior Lecturer Rebecca Hovarter (Nursing) and a retired public health nurse, M. Brigid Flood. “Comparison of Rural Childhood BMI Percentiles: Prevalence and Trends in a Midwest County, 2008–2016” was published by SAGE Publishing and The Journal of School Nursing. The article ABSTRACT: The number of children who are obese and overweight continues as a public health challenge despite decades of research. The purpose of this article is to describe trends in body mass index (BMI) percentile data collected from 11- to 14-year-old school children in 2008–2009 and 2015–2016 in rural Wisconsin. The BMI percentiles from 1,347 students were compared using time, gender, age, and school (public vs. parochial) as predictors. The trend over time indicated a decrease in students of healthy weight and an increase in those overweight or obese. Also noted was a significantly higher proportion of children who were overweight or obese in parochial compared to public schools. Discussed are the observed trends, community-wide initiatives implemented, as well as how schools can employ a more comprehensive approach to childhood obesity that first ensures community readiness and involves school, home, and community.

Health Information Management & Technology program ranked in Top 10

Congratulations to the UW-Green Bay Health Information Management and Technology program! Best Colleges recently ranked 25 of the top Health Information Management and Technology programs found across the U.S. and UW-Green Bay placed in the top 10! Out of 25 programs, UW-Green Bay ranked #9. Ranking factors included Academics & Learner Support, Affordability, & Online Programming. See the full list of rankings, here.



Nursing program appreciates foundation donation from Bay Area Medical Center

The Bay Area Medical Center Foundation recently made a generous donation to the UW-Green Bay Nursing & Health Studies program. Donated items include hospital beds, storage units, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers & more. All of the donated items will benefit the new Bachelor of Science – Nursing Traditional program. This program will admit its first 48 students in summer 2020. “Partnerships like these are critically important to the success of any health program.  We are grateful for the support,” said member of the Nursing program.