100 Years of Changing Lives and Roles - The Amazing Path of Nursing

As part of its centennial, MeritCare is celebrating the evolving role of nursing. At MeritCare, the first nurses started on Feb. 25, 1908, when St. Luke's Hospital opened its doors and through technology, advancement and specialization, the role of nurses have evolved, reaching unprecedented levels.

As part of its centennial, MeritCare is celebrating the evolving role of nursing. At MeritCare, the first nurses started on Feb. 25, 1908, when St. Luke's Hospital opened its doors and through technology, advancement and specialization, the role of nurses have evolved, reaching unprecedented levels.

In the early 1900s, nurses learned their trade through experience, never attending college. They were responsible for not only the traditional care-giver needs (bathing, changing bandages, taking temperatures) of the patient, but also the care of the hospital (cleaning and maintenance).

As the years passed, nurses' roles changed. Their education became standardized and their work became focused. Today's nurses not only "care" for patients, but they can: specialize in specific areas of medicine, like cardiology or oncology; advance and hold management positions; or choose to further their education and become a certified registered nurse anesthetist or a nurse practitioner.

Nurse practitioners (registered nurses who have received their master's degree), have transformed the health industry by increasing access to providers and increasing the efficiency of treating basic health needs. They are able to care for patients in many ways, similar to a primary care or walk-in doctor. MeritCare hired its first nurse practitioner in 1988. Today, over 60 nurse practitioners serve patients in specialties from family medicine to obstetrics and at clinics and hospitals across the health system.

The field of nursing has seen many changes over the last 100 years, and this transformation has taken place right here at MeritCare. It has opened up to offer a wide variety of opportunities and limitless advancement for those choosing its path.