Mary Tarbox

Nursing Faculty

Mary P. Tarbox, RN, EdD, has had ties with Mount Mercy University since childhood. She was first introduced to Mount Mercy when she was a young girl visiting her great aunt, who was a Sister of Mercy. Now, she serves as a professor and chair for the Department of Nursing.

“Most students come with a view of nursing as a job in the hospital. By the time they graduate from Mount Mercy University, students understand that there are limitless opportunities in nursing that lead to a career of providing care for others.”

— Dr. Mary Tarbox, Professor and Chair, Department of Nursing

When Dr. Tarbox first became interested in pursuing a nursing education, Mount Mercy had just begun the bachelor’s degree program, so it seemed a natural fit. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in nursing, Dr. Tarbox worked as a pediatric nurse and received her Master of Science in public health from the University of Minnesota. She was tapped as a young graduate student to return to Mount Mercy to teach in the nursing program.

Dr. Tarbox learned early that she did not have an interest in hospital nursing, because she enjoyed interacting with community members, families and groups. She also had interest in nursing history, nursing education and the work of religious women in nursing, so when she was tapped as a young graduate student to return to Mount Mercy as a teacher, she took the chance.

“A career in nursing opens doors that one would not expect,” Dr. Tarbox said. “Most students come with a view of nursing as a job in the hospital. By the time they graduate from Mount Mercy University, students understand that there are limitless opportunities in nursing that lead to a career of providing care for others.”

She extended her education during short breaks from teaching to earn her Doctor of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

A passion for nursing has led her to be involved in many professional organizations such as the American and Iowa nurses associations; the nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau; International and American Associations for the History of Nursing; took on a leadership position for the Task Force on Educational Transformation, RN to BSN; and is serving on the Linn County Board of Health. Dr. Tarbox also works with nurse educators to prepare nurses with associate degrees for bachelor’s degree programs.

In addition, Dr. Tarbox has won multiple awards during her prestigious career. She was among the Iowa Nurses Association recipients of the Teresa Christy Award for nursing excellence. She was also selected as one of the 100 great nurses of Iowa in 2008. Her work has been published in articles and books, but above all, Dr. Tarbox takes great pride in sharing her nursing history research.

“Mount Mercy is unique among nursing education programs in that we follow in the footsteps of international leaders in nursing — the Sisters of Mercy,” she said. “This heritage focuses our curriculum on the care of those most vulnerable and in need of assistance. Coursework builds on knowledge and skills that students carry into clinical settings that address all aspects of the healthcare continuum.”