Through a fulfilling career in nursing, which brought Janet McBride from Northwest Indiana, to Chicago then New York City, Swedish Covenant Hospital has been the one constant in her life. A 1958 graduate of Swedish Covenant Hospital School of Nursing, Janet’s experience was, and still is, very special to her. It is because of this strong connection that Janet continues to generously support nursing education at Swedish Covenant Hospital.
Janet was drawn to nursing because she saw it as a way to minister to people. Initially, she left her home in Northwest Indiana to attend college in Delaware as a bible major. While there, she heard about a nursing school in Chicago with strong Christian ties and she wanted to be part of it.
“I’ve been to many schools and Swedish Covenant Hospital was unique,” Janet said. “We had such a tight bond because we lived, studied and worshiped together.”
Nursing school at Swedish Covenant Hospital was a special time for many, but also challenging. Students had to be in the chapel at 6:30 a.m. every morning and then on the floor by 7 a.m. Sometime in between they had to find time to eat. Janet remembers one Christmas when she was working at Cook County Hospital (now Stroger Hospital) on her psych rotation and she was tasked with caring for a patient who was confined behind a locked door.
“Swedish Covenant Hospital made me a stronger person and more capable as a nurse. It was a very good basic education. Students felt very supported,” Janet said. “It gave me the confidence to move on in my career.”
In 1962 Janet came back to Swedish Covenant Hospital and taught for five years. She created strong bonds with the nursing students, who she calls friends to this day. These bonds are what bring her back each year for the annual Nursing Alumnae Association reunion.
During this time Janet heard the late Virginia M. Ohlson speak to the nursing students and was very much impressed. Later she became a student and colleague of Virginia at the University of Illinois. Virginia was an influential nursing teacher and administrator who also graduated from the nursing school at Swedish Covenant Hospital. Janet was instrumental in starting the Virginia Ohlson scholarship at Swedish Covenant Hospital, which annually awards financial assistance to nurses who wish to enhance their knowledge and careers through pursuit of advanced nursing degrees.
After leaving her teaching position at Swedish Covenant Hospital, Janet worked for the Joint Commission as the Director of Nursing Education where she taught nurses to measure quality consistent with the Joint Commission’s designated outcomes of care. This experience gave her a unique skill set that allowed her to continue her nursing career at various hospitals in New York City. The last hospital she worked at was New York Presbyterian in Manhattan where she worked on the merger of two nursing departments to ensure common standards and processes.
“As I look back, I know God guided me through all of those steps in my life,” Janet said.
Janet was one of more than 65 nursing school alumnae who attended the annual reunion at Swedish Covenant Hospital on June 11, 2016.
With the growing population on Chicago’s North Side and an increased need for nurses, the Swedish Covenant Hospital School of Nursing was established in 1898 with only three students. The school educated approximately 1,437 nurses until it transitioned to North Park University in 1969. Graduates of the school have had illustrious nursing careers not only at Swedish Covenant Hospital but also across the nation and globe. Many of the graduates worked as nursing missionaries in China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Costa Rica and many other places.
Over the years, nurse alumnae have remained committed to the health of the community through financial support of projects, including the construction of a new hospital chapel in the late 1990s. In addition, alumnae dues have supported nursing scholarships for legacies of nursing alumnae and financially supported the work of alumnae nurse missionaries. The alumnae have also supported our journey toward Magnet and Nursing Board Certifications.
Learn more about the Swedish Covenant Hospital Nursing Alumnae Association. To support nursing education at Swedish Covenant Hospital, contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or Foundation@swedishcovenant.org.