"Nursing is not about patient care; it’s about caring for the patient. Remember that patients and their families are apprehensive; take five more minutes and explain how what you are doing will help."
After graduating from Adelphi’s School of Nursing in 1953, Janet Dannenberg applied to Meadowbrook Hospital, where she was hired as a staff nurse in male urology and orthopedics. Mrs. Dannenberg quickly became assistant charge nurse and then charge nurse of the female floor of surgery and orthopedics. Mrs. Dannenberg credits her baccalaureate degree for her quick promotion.
It was during this time that Mrs. Dannenberg met her husband, Marvin, who came to Meadowbrook as an intern. As a nurse there, Mrs. Dannenberg lived in Meadowbrook’s residency. She recalls how while they were dating, she and Marvin were able to bring the nurses and interns together for social gatherings. On Monday evenings the nurses would invite the male interns over for coffee and doughnuts. Even though the interns would be on call, they could come over to the nurses’ building because it was right next to the hospital.
Mrs. Dannenberg continued her work as a nurse at Meadowbrook while Marvin completed his residency at NYU Bellevue. When the two married, they moved to Flushing. Beginning in 1956, Mrs. Dannenberg joined the Sloan-Kettering Hospital in their breast, med-surge, and head and neck clinics, where she remained for two years until she and her husband moved to Norfolk, Virginia. At that time, there was still a draft, but Dr. Dannenberg had been deferred until he finished his residency and took the boards. Upon completing these, Mrs. Dannenberg and her husband were stationed 10 minutes outside of the naval base and hospital where her husband was made Chief of Dermatology.
After living in Norfolk from 1958 to 1960, the couple moved back to Huntington, Long Island, an area they had always loved while they were dating. Dr. Dannenberg established his own dermatology practice in Huntington, and Mrs. Dannenberg worked in the office and assisted with procedures.
As her children grew older, Mrs. Dannenberg worked in the clinic at Nassau County Medical Center, where she remained for almost ten years. On top of working and raising a family, Mrs. Dannenberg also dedicated 25 years as a volunteer at the Huntington Hospital. Her husband retired about ten years ago, but the Dannenberg practice is still in the family; their son has it now!
Mrs. Dannenberg and her husband live in Northport, Long Island. They have four children and nine grandchildren. Mrs. Dannenberg enjoys golfing, walking on the beach, and spending the winter on beautiful Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
When and why did you want to become a nurse?
My cousin, who was about ten years older than me, was a nurse and she was a big influence in my life. My parents were also very supportive of my pursuing nursing. I knew I wanted to go to a school that had a four year nursing program, and there were very few options at the time. I applied and was accepted to Adelphi University and Ohio State; I chose Adelphi.
Do you have favorite memories of your time at Adelphi and your residencies?
I remember 26 students started out in my class in the nursing program. By the end of the first year, that number was down to 18. We spent three years together and we became very close; many of us remain close to this day.
When I was at Adelphi there were only three buildings. There was also a football team at that time; I liked going to football games. I also enjoyed meeting up with friends at the coffee shop. I remember having chemistry lab from 3:00 to 5:30 on Friday afternoons! My chemistry lab professor was very good, and so patient with us.
What are some changes you have seen in nursing throughout the years?
I feel like today’s nursing students do not get as much clinical experience as we did; today the focus in nursing school seems to be much more academic.
The medical advances that have been made throughout the years are terrific.
You don’t see nurses with the patient as much as you used to. At the same time, there is more individual care in other aspects, such as the “step-down units” in recovery rooms, which are transitional areas where patients can rest and recover before they are discharged. There seem to be both good and bad changes being made in patient care.
What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?
Don’t lose sight of the patient. Nursing is not about patient care; it’s about caring for the patient. Remember that patients and their families are apprehensive; take five more minutes and explain how what you are doing will help.
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