MS Class of 1988 and FNP Class of 1997 alumna, Dixie Melton, learned leadership from CU Nursing professors, ultimately leading to operating her own practice.
1. What was your time like at CU Nursing?
The first memory that comes to mind is how unique it was to attend classes from Durango. At the time, students would meet at one of two hospitals in Durango, and the professors would fly in from Denver. Students would drive hours from all over the Four Corners region for the classes. This is how I received both degrees, for the most part. There were still times we needed to be in Denver, but most of the courses were brought to us.
Some of the professors that I remember making the trip down were Ginny Pepper, Sue Hagedorn, Kathy Magilvy, and Jean Watson. Back then, these were the trendsetters and innovators in education and nursing care. Today, they are still leaders in the nursing field and at the CU College of Nursing. Their knowledge was invaluable, and their influence has stayed with me throughout my career.
2. Talk a bit about your amazing career, and some of the work you are doing in the Ignacio area.
After I earned my Master’s degree, I worked at the Southern Ute Community Program for nine years. I was hired as a director, and we focused on providing the Tribe health and safety education. We also ran an entirely volunteer emergency squad that served the community.
I always knew that I wanted to own my own practice. I purchased Ignacio Family Medicine from a medical doctor who was retiring. He was reluctant to sell to me, as he felt Nurse Practitioners couldn’t practice independently.
In addition to running Ignacio Family Medicine, I’ve been working with other community leaders including Karen Zink, CNP, MS (MS Class of 1987) on creating and rolling out vaccine clinics. This is an effort executed by volunteers. From the schedules, to the parking, to health workers administering vaccinations, it is all volunteers. I live in an incredible community.
I’ve often had the thought, ‘If I don’t do it, who will?’ I know what is best for my community. The hard work is temporary, but the benefits for the people we serve are long-lasting. I’m very proud of being able to operate my practice and provide medical care for the Ignacio area.
3. What advice would you offer to our students and young alumni today?
That is a good question. My daughter, Rachel Corley, was a nurse before she passed away a year ago. She loved her work, and for her and I, nursing has always been a rewarding occupation. I’d tell young nurses to persevere through the difficult times, it will make you a well-rounded person, and the education will lead you to where you need to be.
We care for so many patients during our careers, and they appreciate good care. During the pandemic, people have seen exactly what nurses can and will do. Nurses work incredibly hard. I will always support young nurses and nursing students. Precept if you can, as I guarantee you will learn from each other.
Learn more about other volunteer vaccine clinic efforts in the greater Durango area.