Nursing Has No Limits

Age is Truly a Number

At 81 years young, Marian Ehrenberg is the oldest nurse at UW Health in Madison, Wis. But don’t tell her that.

“I don’t think I am anything special. I love my job and working with people. I enjoy my profession,” said Ehrenberg.

Her interest in medicine began as a child. She grew up outside Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Her dad, 48 when she was born, unfortunately had health issues and she was exposed to many hospital visits as a child.

“He died when I was 12 years old. I saw the work done by the medical team and I admired the nurses. There weren’t a lot of opportunities for women when it came time for me to choose a career, and I went the nursing route at St. Olaf College and University of Minnesota graduating in 1962 with a BSN,” said Ehrenberg.

She worked to put herself through school before she began working as a nurse.

Having worked in several states and several hospitals, she has seen many changes over the years – but says although technology and medicine have come a long way, the core values of nursing are the same.

“We had to write everything down on paper and now we rely on the computer. There were also no monitors in the operating room when I started,” said Ehrenberg. “But the role of nurses is still the same.”

She spent the bulk of her career, 37 years, working as an emergency room nurse at Meriter Hospital in Madison. She retired at age 70, but less than six months later she joined the UW Health nursing team.

Ehrenberg works at UW Health’s Union Corners Clinic and fills in when they are short-staffed. She is in an outpatient setting and enjoys getting to interact with patients and her coworkers. The feeling is mutual: her colleagues threw her a surprise 81st birthday party. They feel she brings a very special energy to work.

She is one of seven UW Health employees working in their 80s and she has no signs of slowing down.

“You never know what life is going to throw at you so you can just be ready. I like to keep my mind alert and body active and this is a good way to do that,” said Ehrenberg.