Certified Nurses Day is celebrated yearly on March 19, Margretta Madden Styles’ birthday, as a way to honor all of the work she did for the nurse certification field. She left a powerful impact on the career of nursing and dedicated most of her life to nursing education. Gretta’s impressive achievements, including an array of degrees, continue to inspire the nursing community. Most importantly in her career, Gretta impacted the credentialing requirements of nurses by establishing the national standards for nurses in cardiology, pediatrics and other specialties.

The most incredible factor in Gretta’s story is that she did all of this between the years 1950 – 1998, a time in history when women were rarely a part of the higher education system as students, let alone professors.

Read on to learn more about Margretta’s path to all of her accomplishments.

Gretta’s Education

Margretta grew up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania and graduated from Juniata College, a small school not far from her hometown. This was just the start of Gretta’s education as she earned her degree in biology and chemistry in 1950. At this time in history, only 1.2% of American women attended college and not even 1% studied science. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Nursing at Yale University in 1954 and then completed her Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Nursing Education at the University of Florida in 1968.

This resume of degrees and experience established Gretta in the nursing field and opened doors for her to lead the way to the future of nursing education. Margretta’s first position after achieving her doctorate was as a professor at Duke University.

She went on to become the Dean of the Nursing College at the University of Texas, Wayne State University, and University of California, San Francisco. Gretta wrote countless nursing journals to campaign for stricter nurse credentialing which ultimately led to the establishment of the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Impact of Her Career

Although Gretta passed away in 2005, her impact on the nursing profession is still very prevalent today.

Gretta closed out her inspiring career as the Director of the American Nurses Credentialing Center and published five books. She is continuously quoted in medical publications to this day. Her impact is felt through the ANCC, which administers testing for more than 20 nurse specialties to standardize the expectations of nurses around the nation.

The standardized expectation of nurses to become credentialed is essential to patient care, ensuring that all patients receive the best medical treatment possible. The credentials also serve to advance nurses’ careers and encourage more professional growth.

Certified Nurses Day

Certified Nurses Day takes place on Margretta Madden Styles’ birthday because of all she has contributed to the field of nursing. Every year on March 19, employers, certification boards, education facilities, and healthcare providers honor her achievements and celebrate nurses who earn and maintain their credentials in their specialty.