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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

To DePalma, nursing program is a work of heart

Dr.+Ruth+DePalma
Dr. Ruth DePalma

By Bill Redmond-Palmer

Dr. Ruth DePalma is the longest serving faculty member of the School of Nursing for CSU Pueblo. 

DePalma currently serves as the undergraduate nursing program coordinator and associate professor teaching global public health and pediatric nursing, among others, and she coordinates all the clinical practicum for the program. She has received several awards, including most recently receiving the 2020-21 CSU Pueblo University Excellence in Service Award and the 2021 CSU Pueblo College of Health, Education, and Nursing Excellence in Service Award.

 

A long road

DePalma received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing as a member of the first graduating class in the baccalaureate program from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She later earned her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from the University of Florida in Gainesville, and most recently received her doctorate in nursing education from Capella University. 

She began her career as an instructor at the University of Florida College of Nursing and worked in Indiana as an assistant professor at the Purdue University School of Nursing, before taking an assistant professor position teaching in the School of Nursing at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. 

In 1994, she and her husband relocated to Pueblo to take positions in the nursing and engineering departments, respectively, of the then-University of Southern Colorado (now CSU Pueblo).

She began here as an assistant professor, as well as the nursing services coordinator for School District 60. In 2006 she began her additional position as Undergraduate Nursing Program Coordinator.

One of the most interesting parts of DePalma’s work is coordinating what are called “clinicals.” These are hands-on training experiences at hospitals, clinics, schools and other places where students gain real world experience, sometimes working 8- to 12-hour shifts. Part of DePalma’s role is to help support and guide students in overcoming the challenges that pop up.

“Many of the public health issues we grapple with today, have been around for a very long time. Issues that faced Florence Nightingale (in the late 1800s and early 1900s) are much the same as those we deal with today.” 

 

A family tradition

DePalma’s mother was a physician in industrial medicine, sparking an early interest in caring for others and a passion for history, especially nursing history. That interest helps provide her a stronger perspective on medicine today. 

“Many of the public health issues we grapple with today, have been around for a very long time,” DePalma said. “Issues that faced Florence Nightingale (in the late 1800s and early 1900s) are much the same as those we deal with today.” 

The technology may change, the facilities, but the general concerns and challenges do not. 

Her office houses a collection of uniforms, nursing and medical artifacts, including a popular 20th-century doll called My Buddy. Before the nursing program had child mannequins with which to work, the My Buddy doll stood in during simulations. 

 

A mission of heart

DePalma has a son who lives with his family in Pueblo, as well as a daughter who lives in Florida. 

Outside of her nursing work, she enjoys singing, and she and her husband are members of the Pueblo Choral Society based at CSU Pueblo. She regularly attends university sporting events, especially those that nursing students are participating in.

She has served in many public service capacities, past and present, primarily in the areas of health and education, including her current service on at least five community health-related boards, councils and committees. That is not counting all her service with CSU Pueblo coordinating events, and working on boards, committees and councils.

More than anything, DePalma emphasized how much she loves her work. 

“I’ve kept at it because I love what I do, and the mission of this university,” she said. “The department faculty and I genuinely care about the students and their success.” 

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