The legacy of Annie Cote’s passion for nursing lives on at Plymouth State University. Though now retired from educating future nurses after close to a decade of teaching, the impact of her hard work and dedication in laying the groundwork for the University’s nursing program continues to be acknowledged and appreciated.
Geographically speaking, Cote’s personal nursing journey has been tied to Plymouth since the early days of her career. Before joining the very newly formed Nursing Department in 2011, Cote worked in the emergency room at Speare Memorial Hospital, both educating others in the ER and furthering her own studies through a master’s program.
Cote credits Mary Ellen Fleeger, former USNH associate vice chancellor, for her involvement in the PSU program’s creation from the ground up. After touring Speare Memorial, Fleeger encouraged Cote to apply to become the first faculty member in the department. Cote joined the PSU team and jumped headfirst into the complex process of building courses and curriculum.
After Cote worked around the clock for six months, Plymouth State’s nursing program was fully formed and functioning. Despite running into a variety of situational challenges, due in part to rules and requirements of the profession, the program excitedly welcomed its first cohort in 2012. This first class, made up mostly of nontraditional students, went out into the world and put its skills and strengths to use the following year.
Cote has also experienced nursing from the patient’s perspective. In 2013, while working toward her doctorate, she sustained a neck fracture and came face-to-face with the gravity of her situation and how nursing factors into the equation. “The support I got while I was in the hospital and during my recovery was amazing,” she says.
More recently, Cote encountered former students who were treating a friend at Concord Hospital. These PSU alumni were praised by doctors and their fellow nurses, and Cote was delighted to see the caring and empathetic nature that she had nurtured in them.
“Annie is an authentic nurse with knowledge and skills unparalleled by her peers,” said Jean Coffey, PSU director of nursing. “Her contributions, from the bedside to the classroom, are truly lasting and we are so grateful for the wisdom she has instilled in our faculty and students.”
Cote’s impact on nursing at Plymouth State endures beyond the program itself, as she established the Lillian Frances Morrissey Annual Scholarship to assist nursing students every year in achieving their academic goals. Named for Cote’s mother, the scholarship honors an extraordinary career that spanned decades. A critical care nurse (just like her daughter would go on to be), Mrs. Morrissey saved lives on the scene of the 1944 Hartford, CT, circus fire, one of the nation’s worst fire disasters.
Cote retired from PSU last year but remains involved as a member of the PSU Nursing Department Advisory Council, which explores ways to improve and complement nursing education in the North Country. She also volunteers with hospice patients, a cause that she is wholly dedicated to, as she pursues an End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate.
■ Shannon Griffiths ’17