40 Years: Linda Ahrens
Linda Ahrens has seen a lot of changes since she started her career at the former St. Paul Hospital in 1972. The changes mainly concern the patients, she said.
“Today’s patient is much more informed,” Mrs. Ahrens said in a side office near the 3 South nurse’s station, which attends to a wing of patients fighting cancer. “It used to be that the doctor’s or the nurse’s word was gospel, but now patients come armed with knowledge – often from the Internet – and the process has become more of a negotiation.”
One thing that has not changed, in her opinion, is where the action is.
Mrs. Ahrens, a Registered Nurse, prefers the life of a nurse coordinator to that of an administrator. For the last eight years as a cancer nurse, she has deliberately divided her days between the nurse’s station, where she is charge nurse several days a week, and the back office, where she completes audits and schedules and, more recently, duties related to the staff safety committee.
“It’s the only way I can keep current on how our patients are doing and how things are going on the floor,” Mrs. Ahrens said. “There’s no way I would trade it for being in the office all week.”
The office is a relic from the past, with a wood-grain, file-laden, beveled-glass cabinet from the days when St. Paul Hospital was associated with the Catholic Church and nuns roamed its halls. The space does not have the slick feel of the new offices being built in the William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital.
She doesn’t think the cabinet will be part of the move, but she definitely will be.
“I'm going to the new hospital,” she said, unlike some of her colleagues who are retiring before the move next year.
There is plenty of space in the new hospital for nurses with so much experience – and she is determined to be among its ranks, even after 40 years of working for UT Southwestern Medical Center.
When not at work in the new hospital, she’ll continue her antiquing hobby, seeking to pluck gems from history’s dustbin.
Even more rewarding, she said, are the days spent with her five grandchildren.
Employee Recognition 2013
Long-term employees play an invaluable role in the life of UT Southwestern Medical Center. Their faithful, dedicated service has helped the institution become what it is today. In this special edition of Center Times, we showcase some of these employees and their varied interests.