Nursing Degrees Open World of Opportunities

One thing Evelyn Quigley, a 1982 graduate of MSUM, has loved about nursing is the opportunities the profession opens.

During her storied career, she served as a clinical nurse and chief nursing officer. She oversaw a $1 million grant and appraised nursing departments across the country. She assisted a regional healthcare leader in becoming a comprehensive stroke center.

She even ran for state office, believing that more people with experience in healthcare should be making policies and determining where state tax dollars go.

“That’s the great thing about nursing,” she says. “You can make a choice about what you want to do. It’s refreshing.”

This year, Quigley is encouraging the next generation of nurses by supporting the DAISY Award at MSUM. The award recognizes and celebrates nursing students who demonstrate commitment to care and compassion.

“It’s imperative that opportunities for students are created,” she says. “If you’re in a position to serve as a mentor or can support them, I think the future is investing in our youth.”

The first two MSUM DAISY Award winners were selected and recognized at MSUM this spring. The RN-BSN DAISY Student Nurse of the Year winner is Sheila Ripplinger. She is the Director of Nursing at Maryhill Manor in Enderlin, N.D., and was nominated by Matthew Ahrndt.

Heather Betts is the MANE BSN DAISY Student Nurse of the Year winner. Betts is a junior who was nominated by Abby Griffin, a nurse at Essentia Health who worked with Bets during one of her clinicals.

Quigley began her career with a diploma nursing degree, which was largely earned through learning nursing concepts and clinical practice. When Quigley wanted to pursue an additional degree, she found only two out-of-state baccalaureate programs that would accept her.

“Those of us with diploma degrees had a hard time being accepted,” she says. “Our course work didn’t include any college credits, so it was challenging.”

At the same time, F-M healthcare leaders were trying to ease a shortage of nurses in the region. To help meet the growing need, MSUM offered to develop a program for nurses like Quigley – those with diploma degrees or associate degrees who were seeking additional education.

As president of the local nurses associationQuigley led the effort with community groups and was appointed to the MSUM committee that worked on the details of the program.

“MSUM took a risk when they decided to start the program,” Quigley says. “I liked that attitude. They were up to the challenge and willing to step forward to help fill a need.”


Quigley applied and was accepted to the program. Like other students, she came with a strong background in clinical experiences. Faculty acknowledged that experience and helped fill in the gaps, she says.

After graduating from MSUM, she was confident enough in her skills and knowledge to pursue a graduate degree in nursing administration from the University of Washington in Seattle.

That led to her being named vice president and chief nursing officer at what eventually became Sanford Health, an organization where she held 15 different positions throughout her career. When she retired in 2010, Sanford established the Evelyn Quigley Lectureship Endowment and a spirit of nursing award in her honor.

“I’m very grateful that I was in a career that gave me so many rewards,” she says.

The recognition she’s received over her career is appreciated, and she believes strongly that she’s been called to recognize others.

“It’s nice to know that your skills and beliefs are seen,” she says. “We are called to do what we can do to support others and take away barriers to their success.”

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