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Look for the Common Threads of Humanity

Advice from Carol Martin, School of Nursing Alumna of the Year

Campus News  |  May 10, 2016  |  By UNLV News Center
Carol Martin

Carol Martin, School of Nursing Alumna of the Year (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Carol Martin, ’73 AA Nursing, ’78 BS Nursing, ’82 MS Education, recently retired after 40 years as a practicing registered nurse. She had a 32-year career as coordinator of medical services for Clark County’s department of family and youth services and later its department of family services. She served youth in detention as well as children in protective services. Martin also worked with UNLV for many years, offering nursing students tours and occasional short-term practicum opportunities at the agency.


The advice I’d give myself as a new graduate … Never forget that even the most unpleasant patient deserves patience and understanding. This was proven to me early in my career. I met Henry, who had severe pulmonary disease. Not only did Henry continually feel miserable, he continually acted miserably, always snapping at everyone, complaining about everything.

After one particular admission, Henry was transferred to a general floor to wait until he was stable enough to be discharged home. It happened that I happened to overhear a phone conversation where Henry was almost in tears, relating how lonely he was and bemoaning the fact that no one came to see him.

Suddenly I saw Henry as a different person! He was now just a sick, lonely, old man who had driven away all who cared for him by his unfortunate way of dealing with his illness. Henry died shortly thereafter but from that moment on, I knew that underneath a person’s exterior lays the common thread of needing understanding and compassion. Thanks to Henry, I became a better nurse that day.

The Alumni Advice series is part of our special 2016 commencement week celebrations, which include the annual Alumni Association Awards Program May 12, and the spring graduation ceremonies on May 13 and 14. Join us in congratulating our newest alumni on social media with #UNLVGrad.