Pediatric ‘Grandma Nurse’ Celebrates 50 Years on the Job: ‘The Epitome of Nursing’

August 27, 2020 Updated: August 27, 2020

Adoringly called the “grandma nurse,” a pediatric nurse from Illinois has no desire to retire despite amassing an impressive 50 years on the job.

Donna Schwarz, an Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital nurse in Chicago, Illinois, reached her five-decade milestone on Aug. 4. Schwarz started out with the same dedication to her work that she maintains today. She even made time to work a shift on her wedding day, and named her son, Bradford, after her very first pediatric patient.

The dedicated nurse has accrued a wealth of experience caring for some of Chicago’s youngest and most critical patients, but the cumulative length of her career still surprises her.

“I can’t believe it’s been 50 years,” she told Chicago’s WGN-9. “It doesn’t seem like 50 years, but it really is.”

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Inside Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Illinois. (Jeff Schear/Getty Images)

Schwarz’s colleagues held a party at the hospital in honor of her immense achievement, with many nurses donning a white skirt in the same style that Schwarz has become famed for. Hospital staffers also posted on Facebook, sharing photos ranging from early on in the nurse’s career, the caring medic with a patient, and a joyful scene from the hospital’s 50-year milestone party.

“Today we celebrate Nurse Donna Schwarz!” staffers wrote. “By the age of 4, she knew she wanted to be a nurse and to help others. She’s dedicated her career to the patients and families at Lurie Children’s.

“The nurses Donna takes under her wing continue to rely on her as a resource, as do the physicians, medical residents, and her entire healthcare team,” the post read.

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(Illustration – ESB Professional/Shutterstock)

Medical science has advanced dramatically since Schwarz first embarked on her chosen career in healthcare; the nurse explained that she chose to dedicate herself to Lurie Children’s of Chicago knowing that she would “never be bored.” Moving into her 51st year as a practicing nurse, Schwarz may never know exactly what’s around the corner, but she feels confident to take it on.

“You have to have passion,” she said, according to the social media post. “You have to have fun. The job of a child is to play; the job of a nurse is to create a sense of normalcy that allows a child to play.”

Schwarz is experienced in pediatric surgery, including preoperative and postoperative care. The nurse cites assisting in the separation of conjoined twins as one of the highlights of her career, calling the experience “an honor.”

The upbeat nurse keeps in touch with many of her former patients, some of whom she has known since their birth.

“A lot of them become family,” she told WGN-9; “if you’ve known somebody for 12 years, you know them, you know their family.”

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(Illustration – sasirin pamai/Shutterstock)

Today, Schwarz is all too happy to share her expertise.

“[A]s new people came onto the floor,” she told the news outlet, “I was noticing that some people had some skills that just needed to be buffed up.” New recruits get an exclusive training program with her called “A Day with Donna.”

Pediatric nurse Katrina Andracki referred to her colleague as “the epitome of nursing.”

Praising Schwarz for her service to others, Andracki said: “Donna has learned the tricks of the trade herself so what better way to learn than from the expert herself.”

Having served the community for five long decades, the unstoppable Schwarz has no plans of slowing down any time soon.

“I am not going to retire until the job is not fun anymore,” Schwarz said, “because I’m still having fun.”

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