Reherman Hangs Up Cap After 26-year Career at CV Tech

Rhonda Reherman has retired after 26 years working as a nursing educator at Canadian Valley Technology Center.

June 27, 2017

EL RENO – There was a time when you could spot them a mile away.

The once familiar but nearly forgotten white cap was a symbol that distinguished nurses in a medical facility.

As time passed, the nurse’s cap gave way to scrubs.

Rhonda Reherman was a holdout.

She proudly wore her white cap until the early 1990s. Patients prefer them, Reherman said, because the cap was a giveaway as to who was in the room with them and because patients desire to build a relationship with their nurse. Their very life could depend on it.

So many medical personnel enter a hospital room these days that it’s impossible to know a nurse from a nephrologist.

Reherman, 64, retired last week after working 26 years at Canadian Valley Technology Center. She was hired as a practical nursing instructor in 1991 at the school and was named nursing director in 1997.

An estimated one thousand students were trained for careers in nursing during that time.

The nursing cap remains a time-honored tradition at CV Tech’s annual nursing graduation, better known as the capping and pinning ceremony.

Rare is the site of a nurse’s cap in modern medical facilities. Contributing to the demise of the nurse’s cap was a significant increase in the number of male nurses entering the industry.

“I was one of the last people to give up the cap,” Reherman said. “Patients have requested that the caps come back.”

Reherman said she was driven to leave the nursing practice in favor of nursing education by an urge to see change in the industry.

“I went in to change what was coming out,” of nursing schools, she said. “Some graduates were not able to do critical thinking, while others could not do skills.”

Reherman pursued her own nursing education by attending the St. Anthony School of Nursing. She said she opted for it over a bachelor of science in nursing degree, because St. Anthony nurses were so well respected in the industry.

She was required to have 45 college hours and then two and a half years of nursing education in the field. She attended class two days a week and participated in on-site clinicals three days a week.

“You didn’t miss school or clinicals,” she said.

Her first job was as supervisor over the health department for Guthrie Job Corps.

She left for Canadian Valley to teach nursing. The Chickasha Campus was starting its own practical nursing program. Reherman took the job and said she knew immediately she was in the right place.

“We opened the program in July 1991,” she said. “It was a lot of hard work, because we had a lot of tests to write. You may be finishing a test at midnight for students taking the test the next day.”

Reherman was promoted to the Canadian Valley district nursing director in 1997.

Born in Watonga, Reherman relocated to Texas for awhile before returning to Oklahoma. She met husband, Fred, at a rodeo dance. The couple has been married for 33 years and has five children.

She looks back on more than a quarter century of employment in education and smiles.

“What I set out to accomplish was to supply the district with highly skilled LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) that would make a difference,” she said. “I felt like I have accomplished that.

“When I’m in facilities, they tell me our students are different. I believe If you expect it, students will rise to it. Most are very proud of where they graduated from.”

Reherman looks forward to traveling and becoming a non-working grandmother of 15 grandchildren.

CV Tech’s Practical Nursing program prepares students to learn entry-level skills required to pass the national board exam to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and for preparations to land their first job.

“We encourage them to go on and keep learning,” Reherman said. “I feel that If you don’t learn something every day, you’re not applying yourself.”

A majority of graduates pursue becoming registered nurses upon completion, she said.

No matter what skill level, Reherman offers this bit of advice for nurses.

“If you ever walk on a floor and you’re not at least a little scared, or you lose your compassion, then find something else to do,” she said.

One final piece of teaching.

“All nurses want to make a difference in somebody’s life,” she said. 

At least until they hang up their cap for the last time.

Did you know?
Nurse’s caps are steeped in tradition. They were first worn in the 6th and 7th Centuries by women known as deaconesses (now nuns). White caps were worn with a veil covering the head. It identified these women as working to care for the sick. Caps evolved by the Victorian Era (early 17th Century) as the veil was removed, and nurses wore the caps to keep their fashionably long hair out of their face while were working. In the 1800’s, head coverings evolved into the familiar white cap, first used by Florence Nightingale. It was Nightingale who during the Crimean War worked to improve unsanitary conditions in Britain. She is considered the founder of modern nursing.
(Sources: American Nurses Association, Museum of Nursing History)