Walla Walla University’s Portland Campus — the place all your nursing student friends disappear to just after you’ve gotten to know them. A mystery to those on the main campus and a brief stop for nursing juniors and seniors, the Portland Campus plays a vital role in developing student nurses and leading them into their careers. Managing and organizing a high-stress, fast-paced campus like this takes a very special team of dedicated people — and one of the longest-standing members of this team is Carol Healy, the administrative assistant.
Having been in this role for 34 years, Healy is the glue that holds this campus together. She sends out email reminders for clinical paperwork which she organizes and approves, she manages the bookstore, she acts as the Portland extension of the HR and plant services departments, and she fills in wherever the rest of the faculty needs her to.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in St. Helena, Healy grew up in a loving Adventist home with one older sister and her two parents. At 13, Healy’s family moved to Texas, where she lived the rest of her teenage years, eventually attending Southwestern Adventist University to study office management.
Shortly after graduating and getting married, Healy felt “the tug of the West Coast” and she began looking for jobs in the Gleaner, the Adventist church’s monthly newsletter. It was there she saw a posting for a nursing school secretary in Portland, Oregon. Healy said she “called and did an interview on the phone with the then-nursing director” and was offered a job starting in two weeks.
While it’s difficult to move across the country nowadays, it was even more complicated back in the 80s when there was no internet to map out the trip or contact moving companies. The church had a moving truck that was making the trip up the coast, so Healy and her husband tagged along and were on their way to Portland. Healy has now worked in this position for 34 years.
Healy’s free time is consumed with the beautiful nature around Portland and the West Coast. She loves hiking in the Columbia River Gorge on weekends with her husband and is an avid birdwatcher. One of the special gems of Portland Campus are the various hummingbirds hovering around from spring to fall. Healy also enjoys teaching Sabbath school for young kids, which she has done since she was 15.
The historic ties between Adventist Health hospital and WWU’s Portland Campus date back to the 1940s, but Healy herself has close ties to this hospital. Her sister works in pre-surgery there, and her husband works with maintenance.
Healy’s favorite part of Portland Campus is the people. “I love the faculty, I love talking to the students,” she continued, “seeing them develop into professional nurses is wonderful.”
When asked what changes have occurred on campus, Healy had to think for a while: “There really haven’t been any changes in the curriculum since 1988 when we implemented a new curriculum.” In fact, many nursing campuses have adapted to model their courses similarly to WWU’s. “The biggest change has really been the transition from paper to internet,” she said.
In 2005, Healy had been hearing about this thing called the internet, and she decided to create a webpage for the school of nursing. All text-based, the webpage was not much, but she put it together and asked a couple of people at WWU who knew how to work the internet if they could upload it. That little webpage was the landing page for the School of Nursing for many years until the University developed an IT department and created a school-wide webpage.
The introduction of the internet to the nursing campus has been incredibly helpful, according to Healy. Here are some ways it has helped.
The most difficult part of managing a nursing campus is finding and creating contracts for clinical placements. It was incredibly difficult to find out when a hospital opened, and a lot of times there was much back-and-forth calling between schools and hospitals. However, our very own nursing director Dr. Michaelynn Paul came up with a solution.
Dr. Paul helped create Student Max, known as ACEMAPP to nursing students. This collaborative platform allows nursing students to upload their files for vaccinations, background checks, and so on, and have them readily available for all clinical sites. This also allows for more widespread, clear communication between hospitals and higher education nursing schools in all of Portland.
Another way the internet has helped is by providing pathways for clearer communication and organization of homework via email, texting, and D2L. “We wouldn’t have been able to function through the pandemic were it not for the internet,” Healy said. Many nurses graduated during the pandemic thanks to having the internet around, which Healy is very grateful for.
While Healy expressed frustration over labor shortages in nursing professors, burnout during the pandemic, and more, she believes Portland Campus is headed in a great direction. Healy said, “I believe this campus is continuing to thrive and develop wonderful professional nurses to serve this world in dire need of loving healthcare workers.”