College of Nursing

Featured Alumni

Not Just a Nursing Family

By Jill Bickham

There’s a Latin phrase that states “omne trium perfectum,” or “every set of three is complete.” This saying couldn’t be more true for Susan Manning Hawkins, Elizabeth Manning McCombs, and Genna Manning Sherman. In addition to being sisters, all three of them are Brigham Young University nursing alumnae.

Susan, the oldest, graduated from the BYU nursing associate degree program in 1973. She later returned to BYU for her bachelors and received her school nurse and teaching credentials from California State University, Sacramento (CSUS). Elizabeth served a welfare services mission (’80-’82) in South Africa and Zimbabwe between earning her associate (’79) and her bachelors degree (’84). Genna, who graduated in 1986 with a BS in nursing, says, “Of course since I was the baby of the family, my two sisters had already been in the nursing program at BYU, so it seemed like a natural evolution.”

While each sister took her own path to becoming a nurse, their father, Odeen Manning, MD, played a major roll in their decisions. Elizabeth states, “My father loved medicine. He loved caring for people. He considered it a privilege to practice medicine. He would come home from work and tell us stories at the dinner table about different cases he’d seen that day or throughout the week.”

The family discussions of medical cases still continue. “We talk as a family about medical issues more than we realize, much to the dismay of the in-laws,” Genna says.  Susan adds, “Our husbands think we love grossing people out at family gatherings, especially since our dad and brother are both MD’s.” She continues, “We have a pact [that we will help] if any one of us ends up as a patient.” For example, Elizabeth remembers when their father had open-heart surgery, the sisters immediately set up a schedule so that at least one of them would be there to help. “We wanted to nurse him back to health, and to be there for our mother. It was a very tender time for us,” she said.

Situations like this, where they can help others, are very special for the sisters. Genna feels that her biggest role has been to be a patient advocate for those she loves. Elizabeth has similar thoughts: “I believe I was born to be a nurse. I enjoy every association with a young patient who is scared or sick, who comes to our office for treatment and I feel privileged to play a part in the healing process.”

Both Susan and Genna have worked for several years as school nurses. Elizabeth is a family nurse practitioner in a private pediatric practice. Susan states, “We have more in common than most sisters, I think. We are a great support and resource to the whole family.”

From left to right: Genna Manning Sherman, Susan Manning Hawkins, Elizabeth Manning McCombs

From right to left: Genna Manning Sherman, Susan Manning Hawkins, Elizabeth Manning McCombs