“There’s always more to see, more to learn and more to do to improve both care and cure.”
Quoting MGH nursing pioneer Ruth Sleeper, Debbie Burke, RN, chief nurse and senior vice president for Patient Care, welcomed dozens of MGH alumni, hospital leadership and staff and two of Sleeper’s grandnieces to the Bulfinch Building June 6 to formally dedicate the Ruth Sleeper Suite. As a nurse and educator who spent more than 30 years of her career at the MGH, Sleeper is credited with reimagining nursing education and professionalizing the discipline across the country.
“Ruth Sleeper shaped nursing practice at the MGH,” Burke said. She redesigned nursing education to encompass academics, clinical preparation and professional acumen – a model that became the national standard for nursing education.”
Remembered as a “nurse for all nurses,” Sleeper graduated from the MGH School of Nursing in 1922 and went on to become the school’s assistant superintendent in 1933. From 1946 to 1966, she served as director of both the MGH Department of Nursing and the School of Nursing. Her goal throughout her career was to create a curriculum that would revolutionize nursing practice and education.
“She achieved that goal,” said Roberta Nemeskal, RN, president of the MGH Nurses’ Alumni Association and a former student of Sleeper’s. “Her teaching model became the national standard. The history of the MGH School of Nursing is the history of nursing in the United States.”
An advocate for advancing education and innovation, Sleeper promoted teamwork and diversity in health care to improve patient outcomes. David F.M. Brown, MD, MGH president, says he witnesses Sleeper’s influence every day as he watches staff from across all departments and disciplines work together for the betterment of MGH patients.
“I think that’s what Ruth Sleeper envisioned,” Brown said. “We have her to thank for so much.”
A portrait of Sleeper and a plaque honoring her, past and present MGH nurses and the MGH School of Nursing will now hang in the suite, located outside the Trustees Room on the second floor of Bulfinch.
“Her name will forever be synonymous with MGH,” Brown said. “Now, we’ve really cemented that in bricks and mortar in this building. My office is right down the hall, so I look forward to saying hello to her every day.”
News5 Minute ReadJun | 17 | 2022