January 1990: Nurses In Transition #ThrowbackThursday

Transitions in life are always challenging times. With them come opportunities, difficulties, and change. In 1990, the integration of Mayo Clinic, Rochester Methodist, and Saint Marys hospitals caused transition for many employees of Mayo Medical Center. Pat Bremer, head nurse at Station 7-2 at Rochester Methodist during this time, shared her story about how the integration affected her professional and personal life.


Pat Bremer had been head nurse at Station 7-2, Rochester Methodist, for 15 of the 16½ years that she had been employed at the hospital. The nursing unit’s specialties included Rheumatology, Infectious Diseases, Community and Family Medicine, Metabolic Consulting Service, and overflow Dermatology. In April 1989, she was notified that the nursing unit would be closing and that three of the medical services—Rheumatology, Infectious Diseases, and Thoracic—would transfer to Saint Marys.

“My first reaction was surprise,” said Bremer. “That seemed to be the major reaction of the other 30 nurses on our unit as well. But the surprise was mixed with relief—relief from knowing there were jobs for all of us. There was also a feeling of loss. The majority of us had been working together for many years so it was like breaking up a family."

Nurses on the unit realized that changes were necessary for Mayo Medical Center to respond efficiently and economically in the future. They recognized that these changes would benefit patient care, and they found support from other members of Rochester Methodist’s staff who were extremely caring and kind.

Bremer was appointed head nurse for 3-Francis, another general medical area, and began her new position on July 10, 1989.

“As we assumed our new positions, we focused on what nursing is all about, that our primary concern is the patient. We work in a different location than we once did, but we are still part of the same institution. Our primary concern is caring for the patient and it doesn’t really matter where you give that care. Nurses have the ability to do their work wherever they are.”

The major differences between Station 7-2 and 3-Francis were size. Three-Francis was a 57-bed floor with a staff of 80. Station 7-2 had been a 29-bed, 30-person staff unit. Three-Francis also included two specialty areas—Diabetes and an intermediate care area.

“Saint Marys seemed like such a big place, but we saw many people working here who had left Rochester Methodist and they were happy in their new positions,” Bremer said.

“Words of greeting from many people made me feel welcome,” Bremer said. “The first week was a blur of new faces and places but the staff was kind, supportive, and patient as they answered my many questions.”

Bremer admitted that transition in one area of a person’s life affects other aspects of life and one’s emotions. “In the midst of this change, I ran into a longtime friend who asked how I was and I burst into tears. I realized then that I was depressed, and making that realization proved to be a turning point."

“A marvelous thing happened when I was asked to join Saint Marys’ Centennial Singers where I found the value of music therapy. If I had a hard day, I would sing This Little Light of Mine, one of the choir’s pieces, in my mind."

“The hardest parts of the transition are over for us. I’m starting to feel comfortable and more like I belong at Saint Marys. With each change we need to face endings of relationships and surroundings; however, we make new beginnings and meet wonderful people. The new experience gives new friends, new opportunities for learning and new ways to grow. We’re sad about the part of our life which ended but we look eagerly to the future and what it holds. We love nursing and can continue a career we love. And to our patients, we give the caring attitude and compassion that Mayo Medical Center stands for.”

Alyssa Frank (@alyssafrank)

Alyssa Frank

Alyssa Frank is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She leads marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing. Alyssa has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2015.