Emogene Mertz Burns

Emogene Mertz BurnsOne night, in the fall of 1943, I overheard some schoolmates talking about going into the nurse training. One of them said she was going into the Cadet Nurse Corps, a government program started to lessen the nurse shortage. All expenses were paid by the government. She had already been accepted by Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines. This was the first time I'd heard either one discuss this, so I thought I should consider it too. I figured this should be okay with my parents and they couldn't object as long as they didn't have to pay for it. I often helped out in the Principal's office and saw literature about the Cadet Nurse Corps. I had never really had any desire to be a nurse but this was a great opportunity to have a career and also help the war effort.

So, without even discussing this with my mom and dad, I wrote to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines and said I was interested and wanted some information.

Within a few days, I received an application and then I showed it to my mom. She got tears in her eyes because she really didn't want me to do this. She thought I'd always stay home. She was looking forward to my graduation so that I could be home and we could do things together.

I was in a dilemma! Either take a stand and go ahead or drop the idea and hope for something else to come along. I decided to go ahead. All I had to do was get a routine physical, copy my school grades from the book in the school office, and get a letter of recommendation as to my character. My parish priest, Fr. Neppel at St. Benedict wrote the letter.

I was accepted into the program and I began my studies on September 4, 1944. I chose Des Moines because of a group of girls from Algona had gone there, so I knew that I would see a few familiar faces, and I thought that Des Moines would be more exciting than the locations near by home.

I graduated in May 1947. I was married a few months later and decided to raise a family. After my children were raised, I went back to nursing, working at the Bethany Nursing Home in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Last Name in Nursing School: 
Mertz Burns
Email address: 
Relationship Status: 
Cadet Nurse
Deceased Cadet Nurse: 
Nursing School: 
Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, Des Moines, Iowa
Nursing School City: 
Des Moines
Nursing School State: 
Photo of Emogene Mertz Burns in uniform
Graduation Year: