85-year-old nurse celebrates 63 years of nursing

On any given day, Donna Alger either sees patients or makes calls to prep them for surgery.

She works as a registered nurse in the pre-operative evaluation clinic. She's been with the Mayo Clinic for 14 years.

"You will see by my age we had an opportunity to be a teacher or nurse in those years," she said.

A scholarship put Alger through nursing school, a profession she has loved for 63 years. She's 85 and shows no signs of stopping, and her passion for helping people is her motivation.

She says Mayo Clinic gives her the support she needs to be a top performer.

"Nurses want to give good care. I've worked in universities. I've worked in simple one-little-story hospitals, but we never had the staffing," she said. "Here at Mayo, from the top, from Dr. Grey down to my supervisor to my team leader, they staff us so we can care for patients."

The profession has changed tremendously in her 63 years as a registered nurse -- pay has increased, she used to make $7 an hour, nurses get more respect, more opportunities and more education.

"Gratitude, number one," she said. "[I] wake up every morning with gratitude and then being able to come to this stimulating, caring, supporting environment."

The challenges are what keep her laser-sharp and focused. She's always learning, but she says being thankful for what she has and can do is key to living a long, healthy life.