NEW YORK NURSE: October 2010
by Alison Munday
In August, we welcomed Betsy Herlihy to NYSNA’s ranks. Formerly an assistant bureau director with the New York State Department of Health, Betsy served as a public health nurse and supervisor for more than 20 years at two county health departments before joining the state. Her master’s degree in health services administration is from Russell Sage Graduate School in Troy, and her bachelor’s degree in nursing is from SUNY Plattsburgh.
You pursued your education in New York, are you a native to the area?
Yes, I was born and raised in Plattsburgh. After graduating, I worked for 14 years at the Clinton County Public Health Department before moving with my family to the Saratoga area where I worked for Saratoga County Public Health, eventually transitioning to the NYS Department of Health in 1998. I also worked part-time for Albany Medical Center in Quality Management for several years.
Why NYSNA? What did you know about us, and what appealed to you?
I recently retired from the state after 32 years, however, I’m not even close to being ready to stop working as a nurse. I feel like I’m just getting warmed up. I started to look for an opportunity to continue my nursing career in the healthcare arena. Since my whole background is in nursing, public health, and leadership, NYSNA was a perfect fit for me! What better way to cap off my career than to work for an organization whose mission is in total alignment with my experience and ideals: to support and enhance the practice of nursing and to improve the public’s health by providing leadership in the changing healthcare environment. Perfect!
What are the best ways to stay sane and survive the long, upstate winters?
Being raised in the North Country, I’m conditioned to surviving through the long winters and I love the variation of the seasons. But, I have to admit, the winters seem to be getting a little longer as I age, so breaking them up with a trip to a warm climate seems to really help.
I love traveling and visiting with my three grown children and our many friends and relatives. I also love going to plays and concerts, and enjoy reading, and taking care of my two Golden Retrievers, Penelope and Calloway.
What do you feel most satisfied about at this point in your life? What do feel you still need or want to do?
I think the luckiest day of my life must have been when I decided to become a nurse. My education at SUNY provided a solid foundation for a successful career in nursing, particularly in the area of public health which focuses on disease prevention and the promotion of health and safety of individuals, families, groups and communities. My work in Tobacco Control and Chronic Disease Prevention at DOH around policy, system and environmental change has perhaps been the most satisfying because of its broad population-based public health impact. However, I probably got the most personal enjoyment from my work with the Immunization Program at DOH, where I dealt with disease outbreaks, mass vaccination clinics, and helped develop and provide training to healthcare professionals at the state and national level on various topics. Joining the EPR team at NYSNA gives me the opportunity to continue providing consultation and training to individuals and groups on a variety of nursing-related topics. I am absolutely thrilled to be here at NYSNA, doing this work with such a highly skilled team of nurses.
Favorite place in the world? Why?
Probably, the Lakes of Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland. I traveled there last year with my husband and it’s one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
Desert island disc? Are there a few tunes you can’t live without?
I actually minored in music in college and I love all kinds of music, but probably my favorite is popular classics and Broadway. “Glee” is definitely my favorite TV show!