In summer 1983, Diann Lynch placed a phone call to the Hamilton Health Center that changed the trajectory of her career. A registered nurse with a background in trauma care, Diann had put her professional life on hold while she raised two young sons. Looking for another nursing opportunity, she contacted the Health Center. “The director, Paula Lorraine, told me that one of her weekend nurses just announced that she wouldn’t be returning in the fall,” Diann remembers, “so I interviewed for the job and was hired.” Recalling that first position in college health, and how her career at Hamilton has developed since, Diann confides, “It was truly a gift from God.”
At the time, the Health Center operated as a round-the-clock infirmary when classes were in session. Diann worked three weekends per month, and that fit perfectly with her family responsibilities. She expected to stay at Hamilton only temporarily, but a return to the ER was pushed further into the future when she had a third son. At the same time, Diann was drawn to her new work: “I really fell in love with the age group.” In 1993, when the Health Center converted to a clinic with weekday office hours, Diann became a full-time RN in a nine-month position, thus completing her transition to college health nursing.
Diann works out of a little office in the heart of the Rudd Health Center. Visiting, it’s hard to know where to rest your eyes. The walls and almost every surface are covered with posters, certificates, announcements, photos and the like. One of Diann’s favorite items is a “Say Yes to Condoms” bobblehead sporting a Lucky Guy t-shirt, a souvenir from a college health conference.
While Diann finds that describing a typical day is difficult, she’s clear about what’s most enjoyable about her job. “This is an easy question,” she replies. “It’s the interaction with students in many different ways.” Here’s a quick listing: RA training, the Posse Retreat, TIPS training, HCEMS orientation and supervision, recruitment for spring EMT classes, health counseling for students headed abroad and acting as the advisor of the Chi Psi fraternity. All the while she’s seeing patients in the clinic, processing HCEMS paperwork and interacting with Division of Student Life colleagues.
Off the Hill, Diann is also active in her profession. She’s a member of the Oneida County EMT community and a recipient of the 2009 Deb Hart Memorial award, which recognized her work to establish the only campus-based EMS in the area. “That meant so much to me,” she says, “because Deb was the one who hand-held me through the process of getting state certification for HCEMS.” In addition, once a week Diann is a personal care volunteer at Hospice & Palliative Care’s Siegenthaler Center, a four-bed hospice residence. “It’s hard to explain,” Diann says, “but it is a real privilege to be present with a patient and his or her family at this time. It’s spiritual — almost like going to church.” Recently Diann joined the center’s ethics committee.
Diann’s two older sons, Patrick and Ryan, attended Hamilton, so Commencement 2002 and 2003 were particularly memorable for her. Her youngest, Donovan, “grew up on campus” and therefore went to college further afield (Georgetown, class of 2008). Patrick and his wife Molly are parents of Diann’s only grandchild, 16-month-old Abby. They live in Raleigh, N.C., so Diann regularly heads south to visit.
Looking back, Diann can’t picture her career any other way. “If I’d stayed a trauma nurse, I would have retired by now. Since the field has changed so much, I’m not sure I’d like it anymore. My position at Hamilton has evolved and I don’t regret it; I love this job,” she says.
It’s inspiring to speak with someone so devoted to her profession and to Hamilton students. Donovan once said to his mother, “I hope I find a job that I love as much as you love yours.” He’s got that right, and we should all be so lucky.