Alumnae/i Feature

Lifelong and Ever-evolving: Ann Bradley '59 Reflects on a Transformative Nursing Career

Ann Bradley ‘59 grew up knowing that she wanted to be a nurse — after all, it ran in the family. Her mother was a graduate of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing, now known as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in the early 1930s. Her cousin, Jody DeRoma Dow, graduated from the Simmons School of Nursing in 1953.

“Both of these women convinced me that the BSN 5-year program at Simmons would be a great choice and lead to interesting career opportunities,” says Bradley. “This turned out to be so true, even to this day. I can’t say enough about how fortunate I am to have attended Simmons. It has lead to many, many lifelong friendships and fulfilling opportunities.”

Bradley has fond memories of living on campus, from forming close friendships in the residence halls to perfecting her bridge game when she and her friends weren’t studying. In her final year on campus as a Resident Assistant, she was introduced to the brother of an incoming first-year.

“To make a long story short, we have now been married for more than 60 years,” sums up Bradley.

During the early years of her career, Bradley was a Public Health Nurse and eventually became the Nursing Supervisor at the Vermont Department of Health. This was around the same time the AIDS epidemic was emerging. Bradley remembers listening with rapt attention to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases during this time, Dr. Anthony Fauci. She heeded his predictions and recommendations, becoming a “big fan” of his ever since.

Bradley went on to receive a Master’s in Education in 1994 from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire. One particular career highlight was in the early 1990s when she had a chance meeting with Dr. C. Everett Koop, a retired US Surgeon General, at the dedication of the newly constructed Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He was relocating to Hanover to establish the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth. An early goal of the Institute was to find ways to promote the concepts of health education and disease prevention to young children.

I can’t say enough about how fortunate I am to have attended Simmons.

The meeting that day led to the formation of the “Partners in Health Education Project,” an effort which was co-led by Dr. Joseph F. O’Donnell, a professor at Dartmouth Medical School, Megan Sandel, a second-year Dartmouth medical student at the time, and Bradley. This project matched Dartmouth second-year medical students with elementary school teachers from several Upper Valley regions of New Hampshire and Vermont. A trained and renowned health educator, Jacqueline G. Sowers, provided lectures and training for both medical students and teachers. The medical students and teachers co-taught these concepts weekly to children in K-12 classrooms.

“I greatly appreciate that I continue to be invited to participate in various research and program development forums at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center,” says Bradley. “Public health, school health, and community health have remained my main interests, both personally and professionally over the years.”

Following her retirement from school nursing, she became the second director of a non-profit agency providing volunteer services to new mothers and babies. This program, which is still thriving, matched new mothers with trained volunteers willing to provide respite and help during the first three months after birth.

Although Bradley officially retired in 2014 from an active nursing career, that hasn’t stopped her from contributing to the medical field. As a breast cancer survivor, she was asked to participate in a breast cancer study at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She is also a member of the Upper Valley Medical Reserve Corp., now administering the COVID-19 vaccine to residents of New Hampshire and Vermont.

“Each of the stops along the way in my nursing career has brought many joys and exciting challenges,” says Bradley. “There is no question that my many experiences at Simmons were transformative and led to lifelong, ever-evolving professional interests and pursuits. I have thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of my nursing career and continue to do so.”

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