Early on in her life, Mary Christine Talmadge developed special relationships with her aunt and great-aunt, who were nurses. She, like them, always liked to take care of others, so she decided to follow in their footsteps. Her career choice was also spurred by the era she grew up in; at that time, women could be either teachers or nurses. Dr. Talmadge figured that if she pursued nursing, she would have the opportunity to do both. To help her achieve her goals, she obtained a diploma in registered nursing from the Crawford W. Long Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Dayton, and a Master of Public Health and a PhD from the University of Hawaii. She also became certified in family life education and a registered nurse.
At the start of Dr. Talmadge’s career, she served as a staff change nurse at Crawford W. Long Hospital. She quickly proved her aptitude for the field, leading her to advance to positions like instructor of the LPN program at the Dayton Board of Education, instructor in the Miami Valley Hospital School of Nursing, clinical nurse specialist at Hawaii State Hospital, and administrative assistant to the director of health at the Hawaii State Department of Health. Dr. Talmadge then became the director of nursing at Hawaii State Hospital, a clinical nurse specialist at Windward Community Counseling Center, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii, an associate professor at the Hawaii Pacific University Loa Campus, and an associate professor and head to the acting department at Georgia Southern University. Her final position before retiring in 2001 was professor and director of the School of Nursing at California State University Long Beach.
Dr. Talmadge considers the best part of her career to be teaching students. A highlight, for her, was seeing her progress from freshmen to doctoral students and beyond. She feels that those kinds of triumphs did her heart so much good; she truly believes in the importance of caring and taking responsibility for humanity. Dr. Talmadge also enjoyed seeing how students think and how she could influence directions for students. Another highlight was having her dissertation on asylum in 19th century Hawaii published by the University of Hawaii press and having it stay in the Hawaiian section of the library there for a very long time. Additionally, she was proud to be part of the university ambassador team to visit Cuba, to receive a funding grant from the University of Hawaii to compare and contrast health care services in Guam, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, and to restore an ancestral family farm, the Pope Talmadge Home, and place it on the National Registry of Historic Homes.
In her free time, Dr. Talmadge enjoys breeding and handling miniature schnauzers.