Marilyn Wolgemuth, a resident at Kidron Bethel in North Newton, writes about what she knows and what she's experienced in her own life. For her fourth book, released last month, Wolgemuth shared her experiences preparing for a profession as a registered nurse.
"Nurses today cannot imagine how it was 50, 65 years ago, so it's sort of a window into history. It's a historical document," Wolgemuth said.
In her latest book, "Bedpans and Backrubs: The Trials and Joys of a Student Nurse," Wolgemuth hopes to open the eyes of nurses in the profession currently. Given the advancements over the years, she knows the work experience for nurses is very different now.
Even for those not far removed from college, Wolgemuth noted the changes are striking. She said she had shared her story with a recent graduate of nursing school who was struck by the amount of hands-on experience potential nurses got while studying the profession in the early 50s.
Contemporaries are also glad to see Wolgemuth sharing her story, noting she has heard from former nurses who studied at the same time relating similar experiences. Wolgemuth earned her registered nursing diploma from Lancaster General Hospital School of Nursing (now Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences) in 1953.
Going through her old journals from nursing school, the idea for "Bedpans and Backrubs" came to Wolgemuth. Upon sharing some of the entries with others, and seeing the response, she believed the interest would be there for a wider audience—and not just those in the nursing profession.
Even Wolgemuth herself was surprised and intrigued by some of the old entries she found, like statistics she kept from her time as a maternity nurse.
Wolgemuth was encouraged to start writing from friends who noted her stories were so engaging, leading her to consider passing them on in books and making them available to a larger number of people.
"So I thought, well, maybe it can be helpful to somebody else," Wolgemuth said, "so it was mainly to see how what I experienced could be helpful to somebody else in some way."
Previously, Wolgemuth wrote about her marriage, growing up and her bible translation work in Mexico. Her first book was published in 2010.
Hearing a positive response to the graphic images illustrated through her writing, Wolgemuth pushed forward with "Bedpans and Backrubs," a book that illustrates her personal journey through the trials, tribulations and joys of nursing schools, covering the full emotional spectrum that entailed.
Up until last year, Wolgemuth was still working as a nurse, having experience in just about every setting (i.e. hospital staff nurse, public health nurse, maternity nurse, school nurse, psychiatric nurse, etc.). Even after retiring as a registered nurse two decades ago, she still dedicated her time as a volunteer nurse, a commitment to the profession that now carries on through her words.
"It's something very dear to my heart, so I treasure anything that passes that on to younger nurses," Wolgemuth said.
Wolgemuth's latest book is currently available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.