CU Nursing - Fall/Winter 2019 - 23
G R A D U AT I O N
GET TO KNOW
Recipient of the Loretta Ford Scholarship
According to Martha Grubaugh, obtaining her PhD was a lesson
in endurance. "Life happens and you need to go with the flow." And "go with the flow" is what Grubaugh did
during the nearly five years it took to earn her PhD. Undergoing a reorganization and job loss at St. Francis
Medical Center, then commuting from Colorado Springs to Aurora for a new job at Children's Hospital Colorado,
and working full-time - all while earning her PhD in Nursing with a focus on Health Care Systems. Prior to
enrolling in the PhD program, Grubaugh debated for a long time if she wanted to pursue a doctoral degree.
Her biggest concern was that her husband is in the military, and she did not want to start a program that she
couldn't finish. Having moved several times during married life, the concern was real. In fact, her husband
ended up being transferred to Kansas, then deployed for a year and now is back at Peterson Air Force Base in
Colorado Springs - all while she was completing her PhD. "The beauty of the program is it's flexible because
it's distance-based," said Grubaugh. So, the program was perfect as it only required that she come to campus
once each semester for "Intensives" where she connected with classmates in person. "The cohort structure is
phenomenal. We came together so well. We know each others' children and husbands, and in fact, have made
life-long friendships. The intensives really helped connect with each other." Now, what's next for Grubaugh?
After a little well-deserved R & R and some major adjusting to life without classwork, her goal is to continue on
the leadership track as a Vice President of Nursing or Chief Nursing Officer.
said you had discovered patients would tell you more
things when you sat down," said Merkel. "Or when you
called and said: Mom! I finally got this nursing theory
"It keeps me grounded," she said of hearing her mother recount work
stories. "You have to stay connected to the bedside and keep that at
the forefront of your mind," said Tarasenko, whose research focuses
on reducing stress of the hospital environment for nurses.
Her mother could always relate, especially when they
(both pediatric focused) worked in the same hospital
for a while, said Grubaugh, vice president and associate
chief nursing officer of critical care services at Children's
"Having that connection and still being able to talk to my mom makes
me realize that we have a long way to go, but we're moving in the
"If you had a bad day, or if you struggled with something,
she had that context. She had the understanding to be
able to kind of just debrief," Grubaugh said. "Yes, I have
colleagues, but there is an inherent wisdom that comes
from someone who's been a nurse for that long."
'I CAN'T IMAGINE DOING ANYTHING ELSE'
The moms said they never pushed nursing on their girls, but that they
all saw the foundation for being a good caregiver in their daughters.
"Kara is very social. She cares about people," Stumbo said. "She is a
great listener and offers great advice, and she's very sincere. All of
those attributes really are well-suited for nursing."
Earlier in her career, Grubaugh's mother worked with
colleagues in creating the FLACC pain scale, a widely
used pain assessment for pediatric and non-communicative patients.
"The thing I always noticed about Martha is that she is very intuitive,
she cares about people's feelings," Merkel said.
'IT KEEPS YOU GROUNDED'
"I guess we get to share so much, and we understand each other so
well," Stumbo said. "It's a profession that is, unless you live and do
it, not entirely well understood," she said. "I can't imagine doing
Tarasenko said that talks with her mom, who still works in
clinical practice, have really helped, especially since she
turned toward research and leadership roles.
All six women agreed: Just as their profession is special, their
mother-daughter relationships are special.
CU Nursing - Fall/Winter 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CU Nursing - Fall/Winter 2019
CU Nursing - Fall/Winter 2019 - Contents
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CU Nursing - Fall/Winter 2019 - Cover4