They say nursing is more than a career – it’s a calling.
For one family, it’s a calling that has been passed down from generation to generation – and it all started at OHSU Doernbecher in 1961 with a nurse named Myrna Strong.
“In those days, if you graduated from high school, you had three choices: You got married, you went to business school or, if you could afford it, you went to college,” Myrna said. “My stepmother was a nurse and the nursing program seemed like it was right up my alley.”
After completing a training program in Alberta, Canada, Myrna and two of her friends headed west with their sights set on a future in Hawaii. They didn’t have the funds to make it all the way, but an ad in the American Journal of Nursing convinced them that Portland would make for a nice stop along the way.
Myrna ended up working at OHSU Doernbecher and met the man who would become her husband. The pair moved to California so he could get his Master’s degree and they eventually settled back in Portland, where Myrna continued to work in pediatrics for 35 years.
“I was just at Doernbecher for two years, but they were amazing years,” Myrna said. “It gave me a real basis for the rest of my career and I loved every minute of it.
In particular, Myrna remembers the level of care OHSU Doernbecher provided to patients from across the state.
“We cared for patients from birth to 2 years,” Myrna said. “The amazing thing to me was all of the unusual cases – I trained at a city hospital in Calgary, Alberta, where we saw run-of-the-mill cases and a few surgeries. It was nothing like what I saw at Doernbecher. Working here was a very eye-opening experience for me.”
Fast-forward to 1994. Myrna’s daughter, Amy Wilson, worked as a CNA float at OHSU Doernbecher. The next year – after completing her bachelor of science in nursing degree at Linfield College – she landed a nursing job in surgery at OHSU.
“When Amy was in high school, she came up to me and said, ‘Mom, I think I want to be a nurse like you,’” Myrna remembers.
Amy has continued her mother’s legacy, caring for kids and families at OHSU Doernbecher in Pediatric/Cardiac Surgery for more than 20 years.
“My mom told me how wonderful nursing was,” Amy said. “She kind of steered me in the right direction.”
Both Amy and Myrna say one of their favorite parts about working with pediatric patients is seeing how strong and resilient children can be.
“Despite the fact that they’re in the hospital, kids are often smiling and happy,” Amy said.
It’s also been fun for the mother-daughter pair to see how OHSU Doernbecher has changed over the years. When the new hospital was completed in 1998, Amy gave her mom a tour.
“This place is amazing now,” Myrna said. “When I worked here, we were two little floors – our own little unit. It’s wonderful to see the amazing facility today.”
The two are holding out hope that their family legacy – which started with Myrna’s stepmother – will continue with one of Amy’s daughters.
“We’re hoping for a fourth generation,” Amy said.
We’re hiring nurses for a variety of clinical areas at OHSU. Learn more here.