Spartan Nurse Skip Shipley (Captain, U.S. Army Reserve) graduated from the ROTC in 1993, and later returned to MSU for his MSN. Scholarship and fellowship support helped him along the way.

Choosing Nursing at Turning Points

Skip Shipley always wanted to be a Spartan. "I love MSU so much it's almost a sickness," he says with pride. But nursing was not on his radar at first. His mother, a College of Nursing graduate and career army nurse who served in Vietnam, encouraged him to pursue nursing. When money for college ran out, he faced a crossroads. Joining the ROTC, he received a full scholarship as their first nursing student in 10 years.

Shipley started out as a team nurse at Fitzsimons Medical Center in Colorado. After completely the army's intensive care course, he was recruited to work in the emergency room. There he met a retired Air Force mechanics turned nurse, who saw something special in this young man and mentored him. "Learn your patients and learn patience," the nurse told him. Shipley watched and learned the importance of relating to people, using good verbal and body language, and understanding the context of people who are hurting.

He left nursing for a time but says,' "I had to return. It was a call to service, a need to serve people in a worthwhile way." Back in Michigan, he worked int he local emergency room, where he met another Spartan Nurse who got him excited about nursing again. Hospital changes brought him to another crossroads. It pushed him to seek his MSN-NA, in spite of having to spend 2 1/2 years to take his prerequisites. 

Serving on Military and Civilian Nursing Teams

When called to active duty, U.S. Army reservist Shipley is ready to support the troops on the Army's Forward Surgical Team (FST). The team may be assigned to deliver care in a combat support hospital or may prepare combat casualties for transfer to the hospital or tertiary care facilities. His monthly training in the Reserves prepares him for these roles, as well as for combat.

On the civilian side, he has worked to maintain standards of practice. He also participated in a joint effort of the hospital's recovery room nurses, surgical nurses and nurse anesthetists to implement a new reporting system. The Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendation (SBAR) Report structures and standardizes communications between caregivers to ensure efficiency and accuracy, and track and improve patient outcomes.

Sharing What Inspired Him into Compassionate Communication

At MSU, Shipley says, "I was inspired by my professor to treat people the way you want people to treat your mom, or yourself when it's your turn."

On the job, he continues to teach leadership and communication skills to younger nurses. As he says, "In any given moment, your choice of words, the way you present them, and how they are received can mean the difference between failure and success. How do you make patients and their family members trust you in the five minutes before you wheel them into the operating room? Or tell the family to go home, that you understand they are tired, and ask them to let you carry the burden for a while? How to explain that they haven't gotten to the hard part yet and will need to be strong?"

Shipley feels that "practitioners need to teach anything they can to anyone who will listen. If you say the right thing at the right time in the right context, you change lives. Little things aren't little. And you may never know the impact you had."

Skip Shipley in an operating room"Skip" Philip Shipley


CON BSN '93, MSN '11

Nurse Anesthetist, Sparrow Hospital, Lansing, Michigan

Captain, U.S. Army Reserve

Going the Extra for Patients, Soldiers, and Colleagues

From wanting to be a Spartan to becoming a Spartan Nurse and Nurse Anesthetist, Skip Shipley has lived by his motto, "When you need to make a decision and you need to do the hard thing, go the extra if it's the right answer."


U.S. Army Achievement Medal (3 times)

Distinguished Military Graduate, ROTC, 1993

Graduate Office Fellowship

Wehrwein Fellowship

Student Aid Grant

Talley Nursing Fellowship

This article was reprinted, with permission, from "Beyond the Bedside: A Look at Spartans in Nursing," Spring 2016. 
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