At the age of eight, Thora (“Jerry”) Gerow declared to her mother that she was going to be a nurse. She surpassed her own dreams: Gerow became one of the first nurse practitioners in Ontario, and, over her 55-year career, helped countless patients, mentored hundreds of nurses and helped found the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO) in 1973. “My life was nursing,” she told Bloomberg Nursing’s Pulse Magazine in 2015.
Gerow (DipPN 1947, DipPHN 1951) served as a Nursing Sister in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. After earning two nursing diplomas at U of T, Gerow worked for a decade at the Hospital for Sick Children. She then returned to the university to prepare to be a nurse practitioner (a role that requires additional education to an RN, and allows one to perform such duties as prescribing medication). Before long, advocating for nurse practitioners, and protecting and expanding their role within the health-care system, became Gerow’s passion: she not only help found the NPAO, but served as its membership director for two decades.
Even after retiring, Gerow kept fighting on behalf of nurses: She advocated renaming the clinic in her retirement home from “medical centre” to “health service” – explaining that the former put the emphasis on doctors, but nurses did most of the work. She succeeded in getting the name changed.