QNIS Trustee Pat Tyrrell has recently retired from the NHS after 37 years.
Working for the last decade with NHS Highland, latterly as the deputy director of nursing and midwifery, Pat has been committed to the role of community nursing in supporting health improvement and addressing health inequalities.
Pat started her nursing training in Manchester in February 1977, qualifying in June 1980 and since then she trained and qualified as a midwife and health visitor which led her to work in various areas across Scotland as a triple duty nurse.
We wish Pat all the best for the future and look forward to her continued support working with us at QNIS.
You can read Pat’s reflections on her career on her blog, featured below.
My sisters told me not to, they said university was the place for me. They told me that nursing was for people who were not bright enough to go to university. As a rebellious teenager that was all that was needed to make my mind up.
Today is my last working day as a nurse in the NHS. It is 40 years since I started my nurse training in Manchester in 1977.
Today, May 12th, is also International Nurses’ Day… A day to celebrate nurses all over the world. Share the amazing fortune we have all had to work with so many people in such varied services and circumstances. Share the incredible differences that nurses have made to living and to dying the world over.
I have never once regretted the outcomes of my teenage rebellion. Being a nurse has been an honour and a privilege and will continue to be long after I retire today.
I have worked with so many amazing people and through my career have made the best friends that I could possibly have. My profession has allowed me to be involved with women during pregnancy, with families at the time of childbirth, with children as they grow and develop, with people during periods of illness and recovery and with families, carers and communities at times of grief and death.
I have lived in cities, towns, villages and islands where being a nurse has, I hope, allowed me to contribute to the lives of those communities in a meaningful and fulfilling way. I have worked with doctors, ministers and others at times where tragedy has befallen the community to support people in coping with huge pain and suffering.
I worked as district nurse/midwife/health visitor in East Kintyre in the late eighties and will never forget the anguish of the Antares tragedy in Carradale – the loss of four men from the village as their fishing nets were snagged in the Firth of Clyde by a Royal Navy nuclear submarine and their boat sunk as a result.
The shock, the disbelief, the pain and the suffering of the families who lost their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons was extreme. So too was the care, the love, the compassion and the balm that the community extended towards the families and towards each other. To have been part of that, in some small way, affected me hugely and will stay with me forever.
I have always found it hard to separate the professional and personal aspects of my life, as being a nurse has permeated all of it and is woven through everything that I do.
Being a nurse has allowed me to meet my husband, also a nurse, and one of life’s most wonderful men. Our professions have meant that our children grew up in some of Scotland’s more remote and special communities.
For us, Applecross will always be our spiritual home. It was a place of great gentleness and humility, of kindness and humour. We lived there when the community was on the cusp of change, when the old folk all spoke Gaelic, scythed their crofts, went to church twice on Sundays, lived and died surrounded by care and support. To live with a young family, and to be the nurse, there, in the nineties was a high point in all of our lives.
Being nurses also enabled my sister and me to help the rest of our family to care for my young sister and my old mother to live the last weeks of their lives, and to die, in our family home in Ireland. The knowledge and confidence which our profession gave to us, along with the support of a big and caring family, provided a much better outcome than the potential hospital or care home alternative.
Being a nurse has also made me more political. Experiencing the glaring gaps between privilege and disadvantage in the lives of people who live in the same community, seeing the mental and physical anguish caused to families by poverty, knowing the inequalities in health outcomes related to social status makes all nurses question the greater good.
As nurses we will always work with people at micro levels at times of stress and at times of need. I also believe that we should work at macro levels to address the inequalities and injustices in our social and environmental systems which cause the pain and illnesses that we see every day.
As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. “They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
As I draw to a close this chapter of my life, I can only thank my sisters for inadvertently steering me towards the best working life I could possibly have had.
This blog was originally produced here