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Meet Carol, an LHSC registered nurse who began her career in June 1980, and is celebrating her 80th birthday!

Image of Carol an LHSC registered nurse

December 5, 2022

Originally from Liverpool, UK, Carol immigrated with her husband and three sons to London, Ontario in 1972. Her passion for nursing started at a young age, first starting as a junior cadet nurse at the age of 17.

Before getting married, at age 20, Carol took night classes at a local college. Guess who also studied in the same class, at the same time? John Lennon … that’s right, John Lennon from the Beatles!

From 1972 to 1980, Carol focused her time on raising her family and after they had grown, she returned to nursing at the age of 36 and we were lucky enough for her to choose LHSC as a place to work.

For more than 42 years, Carol has worked at LHSC, first starting on the Ortho Floor at the Victoria Hospital South Street Campus in 1980, and then moving to Victoria Hospital Ortho Floor where she currently works part time.

We had the opportunity to chat with Carol about her experience as an RN for the past 42 years.

Why do you choose to continue to nurse instead of retiring?
“There was no need for me to retire and I didn’t feel like it. I could spend money like water. There are trips to take, books to read, I’m funding my lifestyle.”

How do you adapt to change?
“I’m not a person that likes changes but you do have to adapt to changes. Now the big adaption and change for me is to transfer into being an old lady.”

How do you adapt to learning new technologies that come along with an ever-growing healthcare system?
“I just said I’m going to learn this,” and that was that.

You’re currently working through a pandemic. Have you experienced any events similar to this over the course of your career?
“I always knew we would get something that would overwhelm the hospital. SARS was the closest I’ve seen before the pandemic.”

Many made the decision to retire in the pandemic, why did you make the decision to continue working?
“These last two years is when I looked at retiring, but it was the worst time to stop. It’s nice to feel needed. It’s not me calling into work, it’s work calling me in. I’m not sitting at home, these were two crucial years.”

Does anything surprise you anymore these days?
“Once in a while, I’m speechless. Absolutely gobsmacked. What goes around comes around (except for the technology). For health care workers, what you do at the bedside remains quite stable. You still get bed pans like you did in the ‘80s. That kind of basic nursing will never change, unless you get robots, you’ll always want someone to do your bedside nursing, it’s that person a patient notices.”

Do you have any advice to incoming nurses?
“I love working with the young ones – they’re keen, they’re enthusiastic. I do really like working with them, most of them are just super.

My advice is to get involved in your career. Join Health and Safety teams, join the Union, learn what is happening and be a part of the decision making.”

Note: Carol was on the first Health and Safety committee when it was first formed and was a proud union rep for over 25 years.

How are you celebrating 80th birthday?
“I have a friend in England, we’ve been friend since we were babies, and I haven’t seen her in 10 years. I want to see her. I was supposed to go last year so I’m hoping I can go this year instead.

Aside from that, I have three sons. Each son will have to do a party.

One son gets me a gift card to get my hair done, I just want them to carry on doing that. They can give me money, they can give me sterling for my trip. The one thing I do not want is jewelry because I’m only going to have to pass it on to somebody else.”

What are your retirement plans?

“I may not renew my nursing license in 2023. I’ve got very good friends I’ve made over the years and they’ve retired -- they’re waiting for me. I’m going to follow up with them all. I’ll work ‘till they throw me out of here in the new year. If anyone sees me going to renew my license on the computer, they can stop me, they can kick my butt. I’m 80 for goodness sakes!”