Agnes a "Legend of Nursing"
The March of Dimes Chapter of Idaho named Sister Agnes Reichlin as a “Legend of Nursing” at the “Nurse of the Year” Awards Celebration event at Boise Centre on Saturday, October 27. The annual event celebrates nurses who have made a positive and meaningful impact on their patients and communities. At the event, thirty nurses were recognized as "2012 Idaho Nurse of the Year Honorees.“ From that group three were selected as "2012 Nurses of the Year.” Three retired nurses were honored as “Legends of Nursing.”
Sister Agnes learned late in the summer that she was nominated to be a “Legend of Nursing” and learned earlier this month that she would indeed be honored. “It is really meaningful to be recognized by the March of Dimes,” said Sister Agnes. “The organization began because of the polio epidemic and that is when I began nursing. It was a very feared and dreaded disease. I worked with victims of the disease before the vaccine came out.”
Sister Agnes received the award in the presence of family members: Anne and Vergial Grant and their son Kevin, Hildie Miller and her daughter Mary Enneking, and niece Debbie Roeper. Prioress Sister Clarissa Goeckner and Sister Bernice Wessels were present from the monastic community.
Prioress Sister Clarissa expressed her admiration. “I have known Sister Agnes for over 50 years and have witnessed her excellence and complete dedication to patients. She is a lifelong learner, always trying to become better. She is competent, calm in stressful situations and always compassionate. Her care and support are extended not only to the patients but to their families as well.”
Sister Mary Agnes Reichlin was born in Cottonwood, Idaho. From her earliest years she was intrigued by nurses and their starched white uniforms. She was also influenced by her mother’s desire to be a nurse and when she was offered the chance to enter a nursing program, she did. She graduated from St. Benedict’s School of Nursing in Ogden, Utah with a diploma in nursing. She began her nursing career in Jerome, Idaho at St. Benedict’s Hospital as a general staff nurse. A year later she began teaching practical nursing in the Idaho Vocational Education System.
In 1963, she was appointed by Governor Smylie to the Idaho Board of Nursing until she left to attend Seattle University, Seattle, Washington where she received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society. Next Sister Agnes attended the University of Washington and received a Masters in Nursing with emphasis in Nursing Administration and Maternal Child Health. She returned to Jerome, Idaho where she was the obstetrical supervisor and then director of nursing before being transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood, Idaho. Sister Mary Agnes served 18 years as president of the St. Mary’s Board of Directors and was honored for 25 years of service on St. Benedict’s Family Medical Center Board of Directors.
Sister Mary Agnes has spent years teaching for the hospital and community and served on many hospital and community organizations’ boards including an advisory council at Lewis Clark State College of Nursing. In 1970, she was appointed again to the Idaho Board of Nursing by Governor Cecil D. Andrus and served as the chairperson for four years. She has a keen interest in ecological matters with a special interest in sustainable living. She teaches classes on herbs, tonics, and salves for Lewis Clark State College. She also directs the Monastery infirmary and is Director of Formation. She lives by St. Benedict’s rule that states, “care of the sick must rank above all else.”
While Sister Agnes has seen a lot of changes in medicine she is very clear about what hasn’t changed. “What remains consistent is the caring and compassion for people who are suffering and trying to maintain their health,” she said. “My advice to young nurses is to stay in because it is truly worthwhile. As you work in the science of it, don’t forget to hold onto the heart and art of nursing.”
Sister Agnes teaches LPN students about how to use a new wheelchair, 1965.