Evy Anderson proves that age is just a number

Evy Anderson, Ph.D., is a force to be reckoned with.

As a teenager during World War II, Anderson volunteered at a hospital and was bitten by the nursing bug. After attending Yale and working in nursing research in England, she settled down in San Diego, if it can be called settling down. At 82, Anderson continues to teach at the University of Phoenix’s San Diego campus.

She is the co-founder of the menopause clinic at UCSD’s Thornton Hospital.

What sparked your interest in nursing?

It was wartime, and my brother (Dr. Robert Hamburger) was overseas. I felt like I needed to do something, so when I would get out of class, I would go by train to a hospital on Long Island. It really set my mind to what nurses were doing.

When I first expressed interest, my mother was very disapproving and she encouraged me to first go to university, so I went to Bucknell University and then I got my bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina. In 1950, I got my master’s degree in nursing from Yale.

What happened after Yale?

I married a medical student, and when he won a Rhodes Scholarship, he invited me to go along to England with him. We came back to Yale a couple of years later because he needed to finish medical school. Although I was pregnant, I continued to work as a nurse.

How did you end up back in England?

While my husband was doing his residency, we ran out of money because we had four kids. He joined the military, and his last duty in 1969 was to be commander of a hospital in London. The British were far behind in nursing research and I signed up with the Royal College of Nursing and they invited me to attach myself to the University of Surrey. The day before we came back to the United States, I achieved my doctorate (in 1972).

How did the menopause clinic at UCSD’s Thornton Hospital come about?

My sister-in-law, Sonia Hamburger, has a degree in anthropology, and she was very interested in menopause. When she talked to Dr. Yen, the head of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at UCSD, he agreed to sponsor a one-day symposium to gather the level of interest in the clinic.

In mid-July, around 200 people crowded into one room to hear the lectures and later, 169 of these people completed a survey saying that they supported the clinic. In 1982, Sonia Hamburger and I founded the clinic.

What kind of women did you see at the clinic?

We saw women who had menopause due to surgery at age 20, women in their 40s who were starting the process and women in their 60s, 70s and 80s who still had hot flashes. We saw a large variety of women with hormonal questions.

Do you continue to work at the clinic?

Around eight years ago, both Sonia and I had moved into our deep 70s and felt that the clinic needed young blood to run it, so we retired.

How did you become involved with the University of Phoenix, San Diego campus?

When I retired at age 65 from teaching at the University of San Diego’s School of Nursing, I really missed it. One of my former students asked me why I didn’t teach at the University of Phoenix and begged me to apply.

Do you continue to teach?

I am still teaching at age 82! I taught a class last night. Two days ago, one of my former students called me from St. Louis and told me, “I put your picture on my podium and gave my presentation on colonoscopy and you smiled at me.”

In early May 2009, you received the yearly excellence award for faculty at Point Loma Nazarene University?

On May 4, I surprisingly received an excellence award from them, and I was thrilled to get it.

You live in the Clairemont area of San Diego, correct?

Yes, I moved to San Diego in 1979, bought my house unseen because I was busy teaching, and I’ve loved it ever since. Three of my five children live here, I am thoroughly immersed in volunteer work and continue to teach here, and my fifth great-grandchild was born in La Jolla four weeks ago. Her name is Hazel Evelyn.

What advice can you give to women who want to be nurses today?

It is probably one of the finest fields to be in. Not only do I encourage young people to be nurses, but I also encourage 40-, 50- and 55-year-olds to go into a second career. The profession is very rewarding emotionally, exciting physically, and is now compensated appropriately.

What is one of your greatest memories?

My first greatest achievement is my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I just returned from two weeks in Europe, and I took two of my children and two of my grandchildren. We went because the British were celebrating 50 years of research at the Witness Panel in Cardiff, Wales. My second biggest achievement is being able to teach at 82.