Meet the nurses
who work at Merck
They bring comfort, care and counsel

More than 300 nurses work across our company.

Their job responsibilities vary, but they share a powerful connection:
the desire to help, heal and bring hope to patients and families.

Below, six of our nurses share memorable moments and offer a
glimpse into the hearts and minds of nurses everywhere.

Bridget Ristagno,
associate director, vaccine strategies and solutions for integrated delivery systems

It’s been nearly 20 years, but Bridget Ristagno’s time as a pediatric and neonatal nurse will be forever imprinted on her mind. “I have taken care of babies close to death due to vaccine preventable illnesses. Now, I am a part of a company that makes some of those vaccines. That’s a ‘wow’ moment for me.”

She has a file full of letters from patients and families thanking her for standing by them in difficult times. “One of my favorite thank-you letters is from a teenage girl who was rushed to the hospital from school with a severe asthma attack. She was scared, and her parents couldn’t get there. I held her hand, administered breathing treatments and stayed to comfort her. I didn’t realize how much being there impacted her until receiving the letter. In my mind, I was just doing my job.”

Bridget’s experiences with patients have allowed her to bring a unique perspective to her current job in our vaccines business. “A nurse is a nurse, no matter what role. No matter what project I am working on, I ask myself how this will impact patients.”

Kathleen Roman,
account executive, U.S. vaccines contracting and distribution

When people think about a nurse, “they conjure up a superhero in scrubs,” says Kathleen Roman. “But we are so much more. We are educators, advocates, caregivers, peacekeepers, counselors and confidantes. At times, we’re also housekeeping.”

Kathleen knows what she’s talking about. Before joining our company in pharmaceutical sales, she worked as a surgical trauma nurse and a traveling nurse. “Many people don’t realize that being a nurse requires many skills beyond medical training, such as time management, strong interpersonal skills and problem-solving.”

But Kathleen says nurses are not in their roles for recognition. “We are nurses because it’s a calling. We work in a selfless manner, for we believe in putting patients first.”

Ron Pruss,
institutional representative, surgical anesthesia

Nursing is a family affair for Ron Pruss. “On the first day of nursing school, I didn’t know it at the time, but my future wife walked in the door. She still works on the clinical side, while I’m on the business side.”

He also didn’t know the challenges that awaited him as a new nursing graduate on the intensive care unit at an academic medical center. “Our unit would get the sickest patients, and we were responsible for preparing the patient and the family for end of life. I remember a young father who died of cancer, and his son came into the room and put his head on his dad’s chest, saying, ‘I just want my daddy back.’ That happened in 2001 but stays with me like it was yesterday.”

Despite the heartache, Ron says nurses do what they do because “it’s a gift, and our hearts are determined to help people.”

Ron certainly walks the talk. In addition to being a nurse, Ron has served as a firefighter and is currently a volunteer paramedic.

Leslie Kemp,
senior clinical scientist

After a serious injury landed her in the hospital and in the care of nurses, Leslie Kemp decided to go back to school and get a nursing degree. “I had served in the Peace Corps and had a degree in psychology, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But when I was injured, I saw how nurses took care of me and helped me recover, and that inspired me.”

In the years that followed, she worked as a bedside nurse and research nurse coordinator. She learned that “nursing is a hard job that requires long shifts caring for very sick people.” But along the way, “you learn many life lessons and come out a better person.”

Nurses also develop skills that can be applied in many areas of work. “Nurses are everywhere – by the bedside, in schools, homes and companies. We provide care for everyone, any age, color, shape, size and without prejudice. We may take our name tags off when we go home, but we are always nurses.”

Veronica McGoldrick,
director, global project and alliance management

Before joining our company, Veronica McGoldrick worked as a cardiovascular nurse, same-day surgery nurse and home health nurse. “Nursing experience is invaluable, and is especially challenging in the home care setting where you don’t have the staff and resources of a hospital. You have to think holistically and creatively to figure out the best way to educate and treat patients in a way that is aligned with their individual needs, beliefs and personal situations.”

Those problem-solving skills, along with patience, fortitude and creativity, are among the qualities Veronica says nurses bring to work every day. “I’ve seen firsthand how much our work matters to patients and caregivers. It gives me energy and momentum knowing that we can positively impact lives. It’s very rewarding.”

Mary Elmer,
director, medical affairs

Mary Elmer knows nursing from multiple viewpoints. She’s been a critical care nurse, a cardiovascular nurse practitioner and a researcher. “I’ve done everything from assisting with birth of infants to holding patients’ hands at the end of life.”

She’s also been on the receiving end of care. A breast cancer survivor, Mary experienced kindness and competence from oncology nurses during many months of treatment. “I’ll never forget sitting in a chair for treatment and hearing a nurse on the other side of the curtain telling a patient about a medicine I had spent years of my career working on. Sitting in that chair made me realize our company’s mission was being fulfilled bringing new medicines to patients.”

Mary says being a nurse has taught her valuable skills that she uses on the job today, such as how to truly listen to patients and understand what they need.

“Nurses are extraordinary people. They come to a job every day and don’t know what they will encounter, but they always bring a willingness to help. They bring empathy, compassion, strength and courage to every scenario.”

FILL IN THE BLANK: BEING A NURSE IS _____________________.

“Touching lives in a way that no one else can, at a moment in time when they need it most.”
– Mary Elmer

“Being brave, bold and fearless. A nurse is the voice of the patient and speaks up when there’s a need to innovate or make a change for a patient’s benefit.”
– Leslie Kemp

“Tough. But it’s one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever love.”
– Ron Pruss

“Rewarding, selfless; being an educator, an advocate. Working as a nurse means you have the opportunity to save lives and help families through difficult times.”
– Veronica McGoldrick

“A privilege. I get to advocate for someone else and be part of a team that impacts patients’ lives.”
– Bridget Ristagno

“An honorable, selfless calling. Everything a nurse does is for someone else – the patient, the family, the caregiver.”
– Kathleen Roman

Our nurses offer great career advice

Are you thinking about a career in nursing, or are you already on the job? Our nurses have many years of experience in the field and offer up a few words of advice.

"For those considering nursing, there is so much you will see and do. The sky is really the limit. Keep learning and keep growing, and you will always find a place to thrive.”
– Leslie Kemp

“If you want to get into nursing for superficial reasons, like making a lot of money, it’s not the right field for you. You go into nursing because your heart is in it. It’s truly something you want to do.”
– Ron Pruss

“When I mentor other nurses, I tell them there will always be jobs for nurses. I also tell them that if they ever wake up and don’t want to be a nurse anymore, make sure to be a day early in that decision rather than a day late. I would not want to be the patient cared for by a nurse who was one day late on making that decision.”
– Kathleen Roman

“It’s easy for nurses to get too focused on the science or the next task. But a nurse must always remember that every patient is someone’s mother, daughter, father, spouse or other family member. You are touching a human life. Compassion is paramount.”
– Mary Elmer

“A nurse is a nurse whether you are working directly with patients or in a non-traditional position. There are many opportunities where nurses can make a difference in patients’ lives. Just look at my career path. I was a pediatric nurse, and now, I’m advocating for patients in a different way at Merck. Although they are two different positions, I’m still focused on patients.”
– Bridget Ristagno

“Nurses are often glamorized on television, though in reality the work is hard, exhausting. You will have many emotional days. However, know that the impact you have on patients and caregivers is incredibly rewarding.”
– Veronica McGoldrick


For 17 years in a row, Americans have ranked nursing as the most honest and ethical profession among a variety of occupations.