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Sirje Kurgvel (née Maekask) '57




April 13, 2012

Sirje Kurgvel (née Maekask) '57


Former Infectious Disease Specialist

Professional Career:

Sirje Kurgvel retired from nursing in 1997 after more than 40 years in the field and 20 years as an infectious disease specialist. Ms. Kurgvel’s family relocated several times, including two trips to Germany, when her husband’s career in the U.S. Army brought them overseas. She brought her expertise to mobile blood banks, baby clinics, and schools before returning to hospitals in Newport News, Virginia and Skoakley, Illinois. Working in infectious disease control allowed her to interact with personnel from all areas of the hospital and to collaborate on broad-scale health care issues. Ms. Kurgvel received her master’s degree in Health Services Management from Webster University in 1985.

When and why did you first want to become a nurse? 

I knew I wanted to a nurse from age 12. My father really wanted me to receive a college education, so we looked to find a school near New York City that offered a nursing program. Adelphi was a rare find for me.

Do you have favorite memories of your time at Adelphi and your residencies? 

I have very fond memories of the instructors. They had very high expectations of us, but were so helpful as well. I remember Mr. Eisenhower in particular as a marvelous person.

I did my residency at Meadowbrook Hospital. There were seventeen of us, and we were divided into groups of four and five. I still keep in touch with those girls.

What are some of the changes you have seen in nursing through the years?

I remember when there were no ICUs. The sickest patients were put in beds across from the nurses stations. We also did not have any on-the-job training or orientation. We were expected to come to work on the first day and be able to do our job.

What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?

When you find something meaningful to you, stick with it. I stayed with infectious disease control because I really enjoyed it. I have always felt that I was lucky in my profession; there were very few days that I did not look forward to going to work.

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