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As many of you know, on October 28, 2002, an angry, mentally unstable student entered the University of Arizona College of Nursing and shot three professors (Dr. Cheryl McGaffic, Barbara Monroe, and Robin Rogers).  Two of the shootings took place in the presence of a room full of students taking a midterm exam.  All of us have been profoundly affected by these events.  Instead of the editorial originally planned for this issue, I have chosen to share with you (with the author’s permission) the eloquent words of one of our recently retired faculty, Dr. Rose Gerber. 


Judith Effken, Editor


Reflections of a Colleague

Rose M. Gerber, PhD, RN


The morning of October 28 was sunny, clear and crisp.

  • There was no forecast of the dark cloud that was about to descend over Tucson.
  • There was no prediction of the criminal storm that was about to strike the University of Arizona College of Nursing.
  • There was no anticipation of the havoc that would be wreaked and the pain that would be caused by the evil acts of one sick soul.

We are nurses…and now we are hurting.

  • Our hearts are heavy and filled with anger and frustration.
  • Our minds are clouded as we ask unanswerable questions.
  • Our arms reach out but our hands are numb.

We chose to be nurses for all the right and noble reasons.

  • We wanted to help heal the sick and injured.
  • We wanted to relieve pain and suffering.
  • We wanted to promote health and wholeness.
  • We wanted to improve life in at least one small part of the world…but now we are hurting.

We are nurses and we share a deep sense of community.

  • We have all experienced the rigors of completing a science-based, clinical education.
  • We have all experienced the joy of hearing the cry of a healthy newborn baby.
  • We have all mourned at the death of a terminally ill patient.
  • We have all rejoiced at the recovery of a critically ill patient… but now we are hurting.

We are nurses.  We have learned the importance of living life to the fullest.

  • We have learned to laugh—sometimes we laugh at the absurd and the ridiculous.
  • We have learned to cry—sometimes crying is the only appropriate human response.
  • We have learned to love—to love the lovely and the unlovely.
  • We have learned to hate—to hate social injustice and unfair treatment of others.

We are nurses.

  • We have learned that life is not always easy.
  • That sometimes life is downright unfair.
  • We have learned that sometimes we have to work a little harder to see a positive outcome of a difficult situation.
  • That sometimes we have to wait…and wait…for true understanding and healing.

We are nurses.

  • We know that we are not indestructible.
  • We know that we can never take life for granted.
  • We know that we must make the most of each day…for we never know how many days we have to complete our work.

Because we are nurses…

  • We must now come together to share our grief.
  • We must support one another as never before.
  • We must listen carefully for what may be whispered answers to our prayers.
  • We must help each other to listen… and help each other to hear.

No, we will never forget Barbara, Cheryl and Robin.

  • We thank God for their presence in our lives.
  • We thank God that they were our colleagues and friends.
  • Like them, may we always seek to do our best; to be the best.
  • Because, like them, we are nurses.

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