First-hand understanding of illness

Maripat King with nursing students

“I understand illness and illness prevention and what happens to people when they become sick,” says Maripat King.


Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.


Maripat King knows what her patients are going through.

As a child, she was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a condition that causes rapid heartbeat. She sat for hours in doctor’s offices, passing the time by looking through the colorful pages of medical books the doctors let her borrow.

“I understand illness and illness prevention and what happens to people when they become sick,” says King, now a nurse who specializes in cardiovascular diseases.

King sees each patient’s chart as a puzzle; she carefully reviews every piece of data to find what patients need to restore their health.

“I believe one of the most important things as a nurse is, you have to have a natural curiosity about the entire patient — their family background, where they live, what access they have to health care. I want my students to look at a patient in a holistic way, not just treat them.”

King is always seeking new ways to teach her students. One of the programs she developed, along with several colleagues, is transitional care, where students follow up on patients once they leave the hospital. Students call patients or visit them at home to ensure that they understand their discharge instructions.

“We want our patients to avoid rehospitalizations, and this is a way to decrease readmission for the first 30 days after going home,” King says. “It’s worked really well.”

In her 10 years as a UIC instructor, King has won the Silver Circle Award four times.

“I work with so many amazing people and I’ve been blessed to be a part of an amazing faculty. It’s a great honor to win this award,” she says.

“I really love what I’m doing. I love coming to school every day.”

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