Nurses, such as the 333 in Fulton County, are now being recognized in their importance. Gov. James Thompson issued an official proclamation making March 8 to 14, Illinois Nurses Week. Citing the “vital roles of registered nurses as health advocates and teachers” Thompson honored the state’s 80,000 registered nurses. Illinois Nurses Week, in its 22nd year, is sponsored by the Illinois Nurses Association. The theme this year is “Toward Better Health Care, Nurses Make the Difference.” The field of nursing keeps expanding. “There are nurses who work for individual doctors, or at nursing homes, or even nurses who teach others how to be nurses.” Judith Helle, assistant director of Nursing Services at Graham Hospital, explained, while mentioning the varied duties of nurses. “You can become a nurse in three different ways,” Helle said. “There are nurses with a two-year associate degree, three-year diploma or four-year baccalaureate. All three types must pass state licensing exams.” Nurses today are highly skilled, well educated professionals working in many settings and capacities. Gertrude Schoon is an example of a certified critical care nurse, working daily with the stress of emergency situations in the Graham Hospital emergency room. “I have constant contact with patients who are critically ill and under constant monitoring and observation,” the specialized nurse, who helped set up the hospital’s unit, said. It takes a special type of nurse for the emergency room job. “One who can deal with emergencies and the responsibility you encounter. It is a serious job,” Schoon said. Working with the children in the pediatrics department is Rena Miller, who said that pediatrics can be one of the happiest places in the hospital. Pediatrics can also be the saddest, she said, when a child’s condition worsens. “Here, you have to be a combination of nurse, mother and a little bit of grandma too,” Miller said from a desk in a gaily decorated department. “Of course there are hospital regulations, but we have to be a buffer for the child. A lot of our time is spent consoling.” “I consider myself similar to a teacher. The child is frightened when he comes here, and he has to learn to cope,” she said. “The attitude the child takes is one they keep forever.” The job of staff nurse is the position with the closest contact with the patients. Pat Geeseman tells why she enjoys her job, “I like the contact with the patients, watching their progress.” She said, like most nurses, she does not like to “take the job home with me,” and it is more mentally exhausting than physically. A lot of paperwork is involved in the staff nurse position, as in other nursing jobs. Marilyn Fishel, nurse’s director at the Nursing Center of Canton, described the differences in the duties of a hospital nurse and a nurse at a nursing home. “You have to like working with geriatrics, enjoy the elderly. If you want to get to know them well, get attached, then you would like the work.” With the proper degrees, a nurse can teach other nurses the job, which is the work of Mary Rose. Rose has been a nurse since 1937, working with pediatrics and all divisions before obtaining a master’s degree. “Years ago only a single person could be a nurse. They always lived in the dormitory,” she said, “They could only between the ages of 17 and 34 to go to school.” Rose said one of the biggest needs of the nursing occupation is for more men to go into the trade. Two male students are enrolled for next August, and there are dedicated male nurses working in the county. Rose’s students, in their third year of study, are varied in ages and backgrounds and in their plans for the future. Linda Law is typical of many nurses and has been balancing work, a family and nurses training. From Green Valley, she said her plans to become a nurse go back to childhood, “I guess being a nurse is what I have always wanted to do.” Ann Dietz has nursing experience in Peoria but needs two years of critical care nursing before applying for her chosen job, in anesthesia. Debra Schisler has a job lined up in Quincy, and wants to go into the teaching field of nursing. Schisler is president of Graham Hospital’s Student Nursing Association and second vice president of the State Nursing Association.
Caption: Cuddling newborns is one duty of an obstetrics and nursing division nurse such as Jan Dedert, a former Graham School of Nursing student. Daily Ledger photo by June Marlette.
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Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library Historical Collection