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Sandra Marshall, MSN, BSN, RN: From Student Nurse to Chief Nurse

MedStar Washington Hospital Center Shines a Spotlight on Trinity Nursing Professor Sandra Marshall

MedStar Washington Hospital Center is shining a spotlight on Sandra “Sandy” Marshall, an adjunct professor of Nursing at Trinity Washington University, teaching medical-surgical nursing. This Black History Month Spotlight is the first in a series featuring African American leaders in healthcare who spent parts of or all their careers at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and is published in MedStar News, February 2023.

Dedicated, experienced nursing faculty like Sandra Marshall are an important part of the success of Trinity’s Nursing program, and the faculty are why so many nursing students and graduates speak positively about their Trinity experience. Trinity nursing graduates, who are pursuing careers in the in-demand health care field, say they are confident and prepared for their nursing careers because of the dedicated faculty, including Sandra Marshall.

Interested in a nursing degree at Trinity? Learn more here about Trinity’s nursing and allied health programs.

Read Sandy Marshall’s inspiring story here:

Black History Month Spotlight: Sandra Marshall, MSN, BSN, RN

From Student Nurse to Chief Nurse (1965-2009)

First published in MedStar News, February 2023

This is the first in a series featuring African American leaders in healthcare who spent parts of or all their careers at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Sandra “Sandy” Marshall’s MedStar Washington Hospital story has its seeds in Garfield Memorial Hospital on 11th Street and Florida Avenue, NW, where she was born in 1944. Garfield, along with Central Dispensary and Emergency Center, and Episcopal Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, merged 13 years later, in 1958, to create Washington Hospital Center.

After graduation from McKinley High School, “very much during the civil rights era” and just a few years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, Sandy entered the Hospital Center’s nursing diploma program in 1962. Her dorm room was 6118 East Building, “across from the bathroom.” (It’s now the IS conference room.)

“Back then you had to live at the school, and sign in and out,” Sandy recalled. “We had house mothers who watched you closer than your momma did.” She graduated from the program in 1965 – the only African American in a class of 65 – and began her 44-year nursing career, retiring in 2009.

During that long career, Sandy worked in many areas of the hospital, including as assistant vice president of the operating room; obstetrics; and surgical trauma, before being named senior vice president and chief nursing officer. “I remember the tower (the ICUs) being built. New ORs, the Physicians Office Building, the Cancer Institute, and NRH (National Rehabilitation Hospital),” she said.

She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland in 1978, and Master of Science in Nursing from The Catholic University of America in 1982.

Of her many memories, she vividly recalls the shooting at the Cancer Institute in 1998, in which a gunman killed a local boxer and wounded five other patients, associates, and volunteers.

The day after the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, Sept. 11, 2001, she received a call from her daughter, as she drove to work. “She said the Secret Service wanted to talk to me. I got to spend several hours with then-President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush, as they toured the hospital and visited patients who were injured at the Pentagon.”

Sandy said she is grateful to have worked with many outstanding nursing and administrative leaders at the Hospital Center. She witnessed the professional growth of two, in particular, who now serve at the system level.

Susan Eckert, who followed in Sandy’s role as MedStar Washington’s chief nursing officer, is senior vice president and chief nursing officer for MedStar Health. “Sue is an outstanding leader and she worked with me for more than 20 years at the Center,” she said. “We remain friends to this day.”

Sandy also knew Ken Samet, MedStar Health’s president and chief executive officer, when he was administrative resident at the Hospital Center. “I have a great friend in Ken Samet,” she said. “He did many things for me when he was administrative resident! And he has always given me great direction.”

Because she admits she cannot sit still and “never got the knack of retirement,” Sandy transitioned to teaching after her formal retirement, for Radians College of Nursing. She currently is an adjunct professor of Nursing at Trinity D.C. University on Michigan Avenue, teaching medical-surgical nursing.

“My biggest achievement was a very strong nursing staff and nursing leadership. We worked hard. I am proud to be a nurse.”