Maureen Murray, November 05, 2019 (video)


Maureen Murray, November 05, 2019 (video)
Maureen Murray
Lauren Taylor
Bassett Hospital
Maureen Murray is a retired nurse currently living in Cooperstown, New York. Originally from the Bronx in New York City, she grew up as Maureen Fitzgerald in the 1950s and 1960s. She was the eldest child in a family of two parents and seven children. Her family was Catholic and heavily involved as volunteers in their community, and with the Christian Family Movement, which was the first Catholic organization for lay couples. Maureen's family frequently hosted traveling officials from the church, which is how she met her husband Dennis Murray. Dennis and Maureen grew closer by writing letters to one another, despite Dennis being drafted into the Vietnam War.

Maureen was always an excellent student, and was encouraged from a young age by her family to pursue nursing. She started her education in nursing at Hunter College in New York City, and married Dennis in her senior year. Maureen mentions protesting rising tuition costs in Albany during her time as an undergraduate student. Maureen moved to Cooperstown, New York when she was offered a job at Bassett Hospital - she originally became interested in Bassett because of its status as a teaching hospital. Maureen achieved her Master's in Nursing from Russell Sage College while working at Bassett, which is when she wrote her thesis relating to the history of Bassett nurses. Maureen was inspired to write her thesis when she realized no comprehensive history had ever been done of Bassett nurses, and how important it was to capture and record this history - she interviewed many nurses while performing research for her thesis. Maureen worked in several different departments at Bassett Hospital, including Medical/Surgical, Obstetrics/Gynecology, and Oncology. She also worked with a struggling rural hospital in Cherry Valley, and presented at lectures and seminars pertaining to the medical field.

Maureen frequently discusses topics of gender equality and her pursuit of uniqueness and individualism, telling several anecdotes exhibiting ways she questioned societal expectations, challenged the status quo, and traversed the less traveled path. She was a proponent of preserving women's contributions to the medical field before comprehensive histories were being written about nurses. From the mid- to late-20th century, Maureen grew up and began working when the role of women in the workplace was largely contested - this time period saw major changes with women becoming more independent as they pushed for gender equality. She describes her interests in helping and uplifting women through her work, both as a nurse and as a member of the League of Women Voters.

I interviewed Maureen in her home in Cooperstown, New York. Maureen completed the video interview right after the audio interview, which may have impacted what she chose to talk about. I would highly recommend watching the video to get a better sense of the interview.
MM = Maureen Murray
LT = Lauren Taylor

[START OF VIDEO 1, 0:00]


This is the November 5th, 2019 [video] interview of Maureen Murray by Lauren Taylor for the Cooperstown Graduate Program's Community Stories recorded at Maureen's home in Cooperstown, New York. Maureen, if you could state your name and your current address for me.


My name is Maureen Murray. I live at 379 County Highway 52 in Cooperstown.


Can you tell me a little bit about your experience as a nurse?


Yes. One thing that I didn't mention, but I started to say something about my grandmother and my aunt, the professor. They had this idea that they would make me a nurse. I found that here I am in nursing college. Did I ever decide to be a nurse? I thought, “Oh, my goodness, I made the big, biggest mistake in my life.” I was an artsy kind of person interested in writing and advertising - not very scientific. I already admitted, it's my freshman year and I'm getting my new books and the first textbook - the only nursing textbook for the first semester, we had many of the other standard academic courses - was the art and science of nursing.

I read the introduction and immediately I felt better that, whoever was the writer, the author said that nursing is as much an art as it is a science, and so I was calmed. It is certainly a balance of art and science. Perhaps I lean more toward the artsy side where I was very interested in communicating to patients, teaching patients, communicating with my collaborative colleagues. As I think about my nursing career, I think there was more of the arts part than science part.

I could do the science, but I was more comfortable on the right side of my brain. But nursing, again, having never made the real decision to be a nurse - it was really my grandmother and aunt [who] essentially pushed me in that way - I have no regrets because it's been a great career. I've loved every kind of nursing I've done my entire career, from graduation in 1971 to when I retired in 2014, but I still actually I'm consulting with the hospital, the Bassett Medical Center now, to do some work that lifts up nursing. I think you never stop. It's been a great career, and I recommend it, especially to individuals who have had another career. It's another new twist. I forget the term for it, but essentially a candidate with a bachelor's degree can apply to be a nurse. I love those individuals because oftentimes they've had another career and they have selected nursing, not like me or others who had no experience with another career

Say in your museum career - I don't wish this on you, Lauren, at all, but you work for five years and you think, “Oh, jeez, it's not as fulfilling.” For some reason you might turn to nursing. Here with all of your credits, sometimes a person is more in the arts aside - oh, it's called an accelerated program. For the sciences you have that are already credited to you, they figure out, in a very supportive way, what [credits] you need - for the person with a lot of biology and chemistry, they need the nursing science. A person who was in literature and didn't have a whole lot of science might need a few more science courses. Those accelerated programs for persons with college degrees are the best. So if that should happen to you, think about nursing.


Okay, great. I'm going to go ahead and end the video. Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.


It was a pleasure, Lauren. Thank you.
Upstate New York
Cooperstown, NY
Lauren Taylor
Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta
Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY
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