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Emergency department nurse Connie Milligan found herself at the heart of a surprise celebration on Jan. 29, 2024, commemorating her remarkable 50 years of service at IU Health White Memorial Hospital. The event, attended by her family, fellow team members and members of the White County community, unfolded as a heartwarming testament to the impact Milligan has made over half a century.
The early days
Milligan's journey at White Memorial began on Jan. 29, 1974. The world looked different then, with Richard Nixon as the President and gas priced at a mere 42 cents per gallon. Undeterred by the challenges for women of that era, Milligan furthered her education and pursued her dream of becoming a registered nurse while still continuing her work at White Memorial.
From a young age, Milligan's fascination with hospitals and the intricacies of the human body set her apart. While her peers avoided medical settings, being in a hospital energized Milligan. Healthcare was a natural fit.
The early days at White Memorial were marked by more primitive conditions than today, including handwritten records and techniques that have fallen out of fashion (Milligan vividly recalls performing a rotating tourniquet, a technique replaced by modern advancements).
Loving the people and the rush
“I can’t get going until I have adrenaline flowing through my veins,” says Milligan, a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie.
Her dedication to treating everyone with respect, combined with her huge heart, defines her nursing philosophy. The joy of interacting with patients and colleagues, her devotion to improving trust in medicine and a deep care for her patients fuels her ongoing commitment to the profession.
“I am, by nature, a caregiver,” says Milligan.
Colleagues speak glowingly of Milligan's impact. Clinical nurse Aslyn Reader highlights her excellent food and commitment to service. Kayla Rogers, Emergency department clinical operations manager, notes her dedication to creating a personal connection with patients.
“She’s got a generous soul,” says White Memorial chief operating officer Mary Minier, a colleague of 48 years.
Educating the next generation of nurses
“If I weren’t a nurse, I’d be an educator,” says Milligan, who contemplated a career teaching anatomy and physiology.
Her passion for mentoring new nurses and community advocacy underscores her belief in creating a legacy through education.
“She is all about education,” says Connie Jordan, Inpatient Services clinical operations manager. Jordan explains that Milligan has honed excellent skills at breaking complex subjects down to a microscopic level and explaining them in simple terms, an important skill to have while educating new nurses.
Milligan's paramount advice to new nurses is simple yet profound: Maintain a genuine love for people. She firmly believes that this emotional connection cultivates happiness and effectiveness in their roles, elevating patient care.
For Milligan, 50 years has gone by very fast. Although she now works part-time, she has no plans for full retirement. She does not want to limit herself just because of her age or give up the skills that she has honed over the past half century. Fully retiring would also mean leaving her work friends, who are close to her.
Milligan's journey is a testament to the evolution of healthcare, her unwavering dedication and the enduring impact of genuine care. For Connie Milligan, 50 years may have passed swiftly, but the indelible mark she is making on White Memorial and the lives she has touched over the years will resonate for generations to come.