Betty Lou Shubkagel, a retired University of Maryland nurse-educator who had served as chairwoman of the medical-surgical graduate program at the School of Nursing, died Sunday of lung cancer at her Crownsville home. She was 77.
The daughter of an electrician and a homemaker, Dr. Shubkagel was born in Baltimore and raised in Linthicum. After graduating from Glen Burnie High School in 1950, she earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Maryland School of Nursing.
She then began her career as a head nurse on a medical-surgical ward at what was then University Hospital, now the University of Maryland Medical Center.
She earned a master's degree in medical-surgical nursing in 1957 from Emory University in Atlanta and a doctorate in educational administration in 1977 from the University of Maryland.
Dr. Shubkagel returned to the University of Maryland School of Nursing in 1957, where she taught in the undergraduate program until 1966. In 1967, her responsibilities expanded when she was named coordinator of the senior-level medical-surgical program.
In a 2004 letter recommending emeritus status for Dr. Shubkagel, Sue A. Thomas, professor and assistant dean for doctoral studies, and Patricia Gonce Morton, professor and assistant dean for master's studies, wrote that she was a "superior role model for every undergraduate student at the University of Maryland" and that her commitment to undergraduate education was "exceptional."
"I trained with her," recalled Joan L. Meredith, who graduated from the nursing school in 1962.
"Betty was a profoundly dedicated nurse and educator who cared for her students," said Ms. Meredith, who retired from the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
"She took extra care with them and made sure they got the best possible education. She was a very caring person all the way around," she said.
She was appointed chairwoman of the nursing school's medical-surgical graduate program in 1975 and for the next decade developed and expanded the clinical specialist programs.
"Dr. Shubkagel was a member of the faculty for 28 years and an exemplary teacher and a visionary leader," said Janet D. Allan, dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing, who added that the nursing school graduates under Dr. Shubkagel's tutelage were known for "their exceptional preparation and excellent clinical skills."
"As chairperson of the medical-surgical graduate faculty, she developed a grant funded by the federal government that was the foundation of our nationally acclaimed trauma/critical care master's specialty," she said.
"Under her visionary leadership, the gerontology master's specialty, which continues today, was imitated," said Julie C. Fortier, her partner of 41 years, who also retired from the nursing school.
"She was a wonderful teacher and a great administrator. She set high standards, and the students loved her," Dr. Fortier said.
Also, while serving as chairwoman of the medical-surgical graduate faculty, Dr. Shubkagel led the faculty in the development of an advanced training grant, which was the foundation of the school's nationally acclaimed trauma and critical care program and is now one of the largest in the nation.
"This was specialized training and the nursing portion of Dr. [R Adams] Cowley's shock trauma center," Dr. Fortier said.
In addition to her academic work, Dr. Shubkagel also conducted research in both nursing education and on the nursing care of patients with cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular pharmacology.
She was also co-author of the text "Pharmacology and Therapeutics," a standard pharmacology textbook that was first published in 1965.
Even though Dr. Shubkagel retired in 1985, she continued to maintain a busy professional life, serving as a consultant in medical-surgical nursing education.
She was a longtime active member of the American Nurses Association, National League for Nursing, American Heart Association and the American Association of Critical Care Nursing.
Dr. Shubkagel had been for many years a member of the board of the Maryland Nurses' Association and the Southern Region Education Board.
For the past 25 years, she had volunteered thousands of hours to the School of Nursing Alumni Association and was a docent at the University of Maryland School of Nursing Museum.
In recognition of her work and devotion to the nursing school, Dr. Shubkagel was presented the Outstanding Achievement Award by the University of Maryland School of Nursing in 1987, and was awarded professor emeritus status by the school in 2005.
For years, Dr. Shubkagel and Dr. Fortier lived in their home on Plum Creek, off the Severn River, near Crownsville. There, Dr. Shubkagel indulged her passion for fishing and crabbing.
She liked driving her recreational vehicle across the country and Canada and traveling to Europe. She also liked attending University of Maryland basketball games, the theater and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts.
"She will be remembered by her friends and family as a kind and generous person, always the consummate nurse, who was there for them during illnesses, surgeries, births and deaths," said Dr. Fortier.
Dr. Shubkagel was a lifetime member of St. John's Lutheran Church, 300 W. Maple Road, Linthicum Heights, where services will be held at 11 a.m. today.
In addition to Dr. Fortier, survivors include several cousins.