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Nursing Excellence

The Online Newsletter for Children's Nurses
e-Edition, Issue 8

Beverly Edwardsen

Family Footsteps: Nursing, It's In The Family

By Beverly Edwardsen, ADN, BHN, RN

I have been a nurse at Children’s Hospital Central California for the last 26 years.   In considering my family’s history of nursing, I immediately had a flashback to pictures and stories of my great-grandmother and my great-aunt, who were both nurses, and then a fast forward to the present generation of nurses in my family. 

In the early 1900’s my great-grandmother received her education from a nurse’s training school in Chicago. I saw a picture of her graduating class; they all had grim faces, big hats and long white starched aprons. She learned of holistic treatments including hot /cold fomentations and polstics which were used to cure and treat the diseases of the day. This was back in the day before antibiotics and they needed to use natural or what we call today “homeopathic remedies.” At some point in her career she became a surgical nurse. This must have been a tough job; I am not sure at that time if they had much anesthesia. 

My great-aunt’s graduation was in the early 1930’s. Her picture shows a young face with her big white hat and stiffly starched uniform. During her career she had several different jobs. One of them was serving as a head nurse on a tuberculosis (TB) ward. The 12-hour shifts must have been busy. Her responsibilities included caring for patients, housekeeping, bed making and cooking – all this for $25 a month. In another position she worked in what we now call “home care.” She traveled with a doctor to treat patients in their own home. They took care of whatever was needed including delivering babies. 

My mother always wanted to become a nurse, but she had a family that needed to be supported. So while her children were growing up she worked as an office manager in a doctor’s office – a career that spanned 30 years! She had gone to college at night off and on while we were growing up, but about the time I was ready to complete high school, she decided that if she was ever going to get that white hat she always wanted, she had better get serious. When I started college in the fall, I was not sure what I wanted to be, but she knew what she wanted and it was OK for me, too! She encouraged me to start taking the prerequisites for nursing along with her. She had been waiting for 30 years and she was ready to start. During the nursing program we worked hard to gain concepts and new ideas that were presented like bed baths, squared corners and ethics. My mother was an excellent student. She studied a lot more than I did and we both managed to pass all our classes. In the end, we were proud and excited to sit side-by-side for the licensing board exam! Mom and I had our picture taken together with our big white hats and our white uniforms. 

Nursing diagnoses and techniques in nursing have changed over the years, but what has not changed is the need for highly educated and skilled, caring nurses. My mother had the greatest influence on me. I was not the only one who was influenced by my mother. In our immediate family we have five nurses, including my husband, Wendell, who works on Craycroft here at Children’s.

From my mother, I learned that we are never done learning. Living life is about learning and improving. Just because you are older or have not had the chance to attend college, it is never too late. There are still things to learn and enjoy while staying on the path of lifelong learning.


In This Issue

Nursing Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow - Making A Difference

Nursing Through The Generations

Family Footsteps: Generations of Influence

Family Footsteps: Born To Be…

Family Footsteps: Nursing, It's In The Family

It's Not Your Grandma's Student Program

Nurse of the Year 2011

Evaluation of the Humpty Dumpty Fall Risk Screening Tool

Enhancements to Nursing Professional Practice

Contributions to Practice

Leadership in Professional Nursing Organizations