It didn't take long for Connie Luedtke to get hooked on Mayo Clinic Nursing history.
Soon after she joined the Mayo Clinic Nursing History Committee, Luedtke read interviews conducted with nurses who had worked with the Mayo brothers.
"It was a great opportunity to be able to see a glimpse of what nursing was like decades ago," she says.
That was in 2004. In the years since, Luedtke — who eventually served as chair of the committee — has become a passionate advocate for collecting and preserving the stories of Mayo nurses. She and other committee members have interviewed nearly 200 staff members about their education, first jobs, mentors, and the changes they've witnessed in the profession. The interviews have been recorded and transcribed, with copies given to both the interviewee and Mayo Clinic. They've also been indexed by a Mayo Clinic librarian with the hope that the material may be useful to researchers someday.
"Connie has worked tirelessly to capture in written word and video the history of Mayo Clinic nursing," says Ann McKay, nurse administrator.
That history includes changes that have had an impact on nurses as recently as 2020.
"One of my goals has been to be capturing what I call living history," Luedtke says. "We know certain things will be of clinical significance as they're occurring."
Things like Epic implementation, the opening of the Crisis Intervention Unit, and most recently, COVID.
"We conducted group interviews of staff who were on the COVID frontlines," Luedtke says. "We were able to capture their memories in real-time."
I thought it would be fitting to have a way to honor nurses who gave so much of their lives to the profession of nursing.Connie Luedtke
The interviews she's been a part of, as well as the colleagues she's worked with in her more than 35-year career, have given Luedtke a deep appreciation for the work nurses do. To acknowledge that, she's spearheaded the development of a Nursing Honor Guard that will recognize nurses who have passed away.
"A couple of years ago I was at funerals of a firefighter and an EMS volunteer where there were honor guards," Luedtke says. "It highlighted for me the dedication that was required in these lines of work or volunteer activity. I thought it would be fitting to have a way to honor nurses who gave so much of their lives to the profession of nursing."
Mayo Clinic active or retired nurses will serve as members of the guard, attending the funerals or memorial services of nurses at their families' request. The guard will wear nursing capes or scrubs and deliver a program that includes giving grieving families a Nightingale lamp in memory of their loved ones.
"The Honor Guard will not only honor individual nurses but will also provide the public with a snapshot of the profound impact of nursing," Luedtke says. "The friends and family members may not be aware of how important this nurse was in their work at Mayo Clinic. This will be a way that we can share some of what they did, and what they meant as a professional nurse."
Luedtke hopes the Nursing Honor Guard will launch in 2023. When it does roll out, she'll have plenty of time to be a part of it.
Luedtke is becoming part of Mayo Clinic nursing history herself: she retires on Dec. 1.
Tags: Staff Stories