From nurse to teacher to bestselling author, Caroline Bunker Rosdahl has no shortage of stories to tell. Originally from Sauk Centre and now residing in Plymouth, Rosdahl knew she wanted to be a nurse since the first time she saw one in action. Her mother, a teacher, wanted Rosdahl to follow her footsteps; instead of choosing one over the other, Rosdahl figured out a way to incorporate both interests throughout her life.
Rosdahl’s nursing career led her down a path rich with opportunities. Not only did she work as a school nurse, general hospital nurse and public health nurse at various points throughout her life, but she also served as the executive director of the Lions Gift of Sight at the University of Minnesota and worked as a vocational teacher.
For all these other accolades, nursing also led her to be chosen to start the Anoka Technical College nursing program from scratch. She spent 25 years at the program before deciding to call it quits, but her hiatus didn’t last long. “I left the college for a year and got bored,” Rosdahl says. “I decided to work at the Hennepin County Medical Center for one year and spent the next 26 there.”
Over the course of Rosdahl’s career, she’s seen incredible changes in the medical field, particularly surgery. In her time, Rosdahl worked with medical practitioners, who were developing the early stages of heart surgery. Nowadays, people have work done on aortic valves and go home the next day. “When people would get cataract surgery, they’d have to stay in bed for a week with bags on their eyes,” Rosdahl says. “Things were just beginning.”
Rosdahl has an entire chapter of her new book, The Naked City, devoted to the medical advancements she’s seen. The rest of the book details the assorted stories and anecdotes Rosdahl has collected throughout her life.
While the stories are entertaining, there is a bigger purpose behind the book. “I wrote the book for two reasons,” Rosdahl says. “One is to tell nurses they won’t just be passing bedpans around their whole career, and the other is so people know once you’re a nurse, you’re always a nurse.”
Caroline Unker Rosdahl, 1960 University of Minnesota School of Nursing graduation photo.
The Naked City captures a side of nursing the general public doesn’t get to see, with splashes of comedy that add color to the accounts. In one such story, Rosdahl describes how she went to check on one of the schools she was responsible for. There, she found the teacher tied to a tree out back, so the students could leave early. “I never did see her again,” Rosdahl says. “You just can’t make this stuff up.”
While The Naked City is Rosdahl’s most recent book, it’s by no means her first. Rosdahl’s first foray into authorship occurred when she was asked to write a chapter in a home economics textbook. “Once you write one thing, they’re always after you,” Rosdahl says. She’s been writing ever since.
After the textbook chapter, Rosdahl went on to write a myriad of articles as well as edit a number of publications, but her writing cumulated in her best-known work, the Textbook of Basic Nursing. This cornerstone of nursing curriculum, currently in its 12th edition, is still found in medical classrooms today.
Interested readers can order The Naked City on Amazon and, if you want to learn more about what Rosdahl is up to these days, you can visit her at her website carolinerosdahl.com.