Meet SPU nursing graduate Sydney Parker: Professor at 27
2013 Seattle Pacific University nursing graduate Sydney Gates Parker tackles life — from patient care to teaching to home restoration — at full speed.
In the five years since she earned her undergraduate degree, Sydney honed her nursing skills in outpatient obstetrics and pediatrics and inpatient labor and delivery, finished her master’s degree in nursing, and became the youngest faculty member for Lewis Clark State College’s nursing program in Lewiston, Idaho.
As a labor and delivery nurse, I consider it a joy and privilege to be a part of some of the best and worst times in people’s lives.
Though teaching full time, Sydney still works several hospital shifts each month in her hometown of Moscow, Idaho, to maintain clinical competence. “As a labor and delivery nurse, I consider it a joy and privilege to be a part of some of the best and worst times in people’s lives,” she says.
Her stepfather’s cancer diagnosis during her senior year of high school illuminated Sydney’s future. “The hospice nurse was kind, compassionate, and involved the whole family in the care plan,” she says. “That experience and her care helped create a clearer path for my vocational aspirations.”
Sydney calls her choice to come to SPU one of the best decisions she ever made. “I could not recommend the SPU nursing program more highly. From knowledgeable instructors to access to amazing clinical rotations, this program thoroughly prepared me to be both a nurse and a leader in the profession. It absolutely informs how I care for my patients and students,” she says.
The University is poised for growth in its undergraduate nursing program with the opening this fall of a new learning space in the renovated 6 Nickerson building.
The University is poised for growth in its undergraduate nursing program with a new learning space that will open this autumn in the renovated 6 Nickerson building (east of Wallace Field). Students will utilize a clinical learning lab with an eight-bed skills training area and a training room with six exam tables, allowing nurses in training to move seamlessly between didactic learning and practice. In addition, a separate simulation suite with two patient rooms, a clinical exam room, and a debriefing space will give students opportunities to practice and learn in a safe environment. The valuable enhanced simulation capacity complements in-hospital and clinic practicum experiences.
Despite her love of direct patient care, Sydney finds equal satisfaction in the classroom. “I love seeing the ‘aha!’ moment when a student puts it all together or shares a special moment from their clinical experiences,” says the assistant professor. “I hope they always remember that they make or break a patient’s experience and therefore competence, compassion, and care go hand in hand.”
I hope they always remember that they make or break a patient’s experience and therefore competence, compassion, and care go hand in hand.
Sydney recently stepped into the editor-in-chief role for her state’s American Nurses Association quarterly publication, RN Idaho. She has plans to conduct a pilot study on postpartum depression. She is also a community outreach volunteer, hosting health awareness events, assisting with vaccinations, and more.
Unsurprisingly, Sydney keeps busy in her “off” hours, too. She and husband Caleb feel like Joanna and Chip of Fixer Upper fame — they spent the last year painstakingly remodeling their 100-year-old home. Not one to put up her feet, Sydney runs half-marathons and enjoys hiking and backpacking with Caleb and their dog, Oakley, too.
She is grateful to have found such a rich and rewarding career: “There are so many things to love about nursing: the people, flexibility, ability to specialize, and the continued quest to grow and utilize critical thinking as well as manual skills. Nursing is all about the love of service.”