Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO, progressive pediatrics blog

For my mom, nursing wasn’t a job. It was her life.

My mom, Phyllis Schaefer Gorelick, was born during World War II and grew up in the Bronx, New York. She graduated high school early, entering Mt. Sinai Hospital School of Nursing when she was just 16. That was in the late 50s when most women had very limited career choices outside the home. It was mostly being a nurse, a teacher or doing clerical work. 

But I never heard my mom complain about any of that. She graduated in 1961 and worked as a registered nurse (RN) for 40 years. 

I knew she loved being a nurse because she always introduced herself that way. It was an important part of her identity. Her nursing school graduation photo was always on display in our house. She was proud of having earned the nurse’s cap she wore in that picture.  

As a kid I remember her coming home from work and talking about the cases from that day. She was very curious. For her, it wasn’t just about changing the dressing or other tasks; she wanted to know more about the disease. And she had a real connection to her patients.

My mom's 1961 yearbook photo.

My hunch is if she were a nurse today, she’d want to move into advanced practice nursing. That wasn’t an option for nurses back then. 

Among my friends growing up, it was unusual for their moms to work outside the home. On the one hand, my mom worked because our family needed the money, but she also was following her calling. My mom’s work, and her passion for her work, definitely influenced my choice to become a doctor.   

My mom started out as a surgical nurse then later worked as an office nurse in a general surgery practice. The practice was very old school and very small: one surgeon, my mom and a receptionist. They knew all the patients. That’s pretty different from most settings today, though one thing that sets us apart is that our Children’s Minnesota nurses often do form meaningful bonds with our patients and families. It’s one of the many things they are so good at: caring for the whole family, getting to know them as people. That personal care isn’t an outdated thing at Children’s Minnesota. 

Throughout her life, my mom remained close with her nursing school buddies. It was a very tight group, a sisterhood. (And it was a sisterhood – no men in the class at all.) Most of her classmates, like my mom, are now gone. But they set an example that lives on, through everyone who witnessed their passion, their work ethic and the personal care they gave their patients. The pride they had in being of service to others and serving them well.  

To our Children’s Minnesota nurses, these are the same qualities I see in you. You’re an inspiration to the kids and families you serve. And to me. Just like my mom was. 

My mom's 1961 nursing school graduation. Credit: Arthur H. Aufses, Jr. MD Archives Blog
Marc Gorelick, president and CEO

Marc Gorelick, MD
President, chief executive officer

Marc Gorelick, MD, is the president and chief executive officer (CEO) at Children's Minnesota. He is deeply committed to advocacy issues that impact children's health, sustainability and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

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Julianna Olsen