For the Clements Nursing is a Family Affair
Pictured L to R: Jake, Tim, Julie, Sara, Sam, and Zach Clements
The Clements just may become known as the first family of the Viterbo School of Nursing.
Nursing faculty member Julie (Fry) Clements ’81 and three sons, Zach ’06, Jake, and Sam decided to pursue their nursing degrees at Viterbo. Husband and father Tim Clements ’81 is also an alumnus, but his degree is in business.
“I am a proud mother,” Julie recently said, reflecting on the influence she had on her children and their desire to go into a profession “I really value and hold in such esteem.”
With two nurses and two nurses-to-be in the family, the dinner table conversation has often drifted toward their preferred career choice. “Tim frequently comments about the ‘shop talk’ when we share patient clinical scenarios, observing HIPPA regulations and patient confidentiality of course,” she laughed.
House and Mystery Diagnosis are two popular television shows in the Clements house. The Clements sons would often watch the programs together and compete to see who could determine the correct diagnosis. They also discuss the stereotypes associated with being a male nurse, as portrayed by Greg Focker, in the popular movies Meet the Parents and its sequel, Meet the Fockers. And, when studying fields such as anatomy and physiology, good-natured yet competitive debates are often sparked when discussing the subject matter.
Nursing is one bond the Clements family shares. Viterbo University is another.
“Tim and I know the value of the education we received, as well as the life-long friends we’ve made here at Viterbo,” Julie said. “It was such a positive experience that we talked to our kids and strongly encouraged them.”
The elder Clements appreciated being a member of the Viterbo community and the close relationship they developed with faculty, two of the positive aspects of a Viterbo education they expressed to their children.
“When Tim was a student, he underwent surgery to remove a bone cyst,” Julie explained. “Some of his teachers stayed over Christmas break to tutor him. Fr. (J. Thomas) Finucan, then president of Viterbo, even found him an extra scholarship to help with finances.”
While the Clements speak very highly of Viterbo, dean of the School of Nursing Silvana Richardson said the feeling is mutual.
“Having Julie on our faculty; one son, a graduate; and two sons in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is a real privilege,” Richardson said. “They bring a passion to nursing and a commitment to Viterbo that is inspiring for other students and us as faculty. The Clements are one of several second generation Viterbo nursing families, which speaks highly of the difference that a Viterbo nursing education has made in their personal and professional lives.”
The love of nursing and healthcare runs strong in the Clements family, beginning with Julie many years ago. She could never imagine a career in a different field.
“I’ve found papers from when I was five-years-old in kindergarten on which I had written that I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I felt called to be a nurse. I never wanted to do anything else.”
Wishing to further her education, Julie earned a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Winona State in 1995. She worked as a nurse practitioner in private practice for 12 years before joining the Viterbo nursing faculty last year.
“Zach told me about an opening for a nurse practitioner faculty member at Viterbo, but I didn’t apply,” she said. “So he emailed Silvana Richardson, who invited me to send her my resume.”
“I have a passion for nursing, and I hope I instill some of that passion into my students in the classroom,” she said.
Zach worked as a nurse in the neurological unit at North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis before taking a nursing position in the Intensive Care Unit at Franciscan Skemp Healthcare in La Crosse in August. Jake completed his freshman year at Viterbo before being called up to active duty with the military. He served in an artillery unit deployed for 22 months, serving 16 months in Iraq. He had been trained as a sniper and provided security on convoy missions as a gunner or driver. He was also on a Radio Relay Point providing base and convoy security. Julie registered him for classes, and he is back for his sophomore year this fall.
Youngest son Sam is also beginning his sophomore year at Viterbo this fall.
“My brothers had a big impact on my decision to go here,” Sam said. “I wanted to do something in the healthcare field, and the outlook is great in the field of nursing.”
Sam and Jake won’t have any classes with their mother, because she teaches graduate students exclusively. However, they see her on campus from time to time.
“I try very hard to not be a helicopter parent,” she said with a smile.
Not every member of the Clements family decided to pursue nursing at Viterbo, however. Daughter Sara broke the chain, pursuing a degree in child psychology from the University of Minnesota.
“She wants a career that has nothing to do with blood,” Julie laughed, as she reflected on how her children have chosen their career paths.