10 May 2023

Celebrating International Nurses Day

Welcome to International Nurses Day. At Estia Health we are celebrating our residents who were once nurses and we have been reminiscing with them about their former careers, when they started and what their working conditions were like. Their stories have been fascinating and what shines through most of all, is that when you enter the nursing profession, even as a young 17 year old, you never lose the nursing touch. Once a nurse, always a nurse.

<h4 class="text-dark-teal text-xl mb-3">Rhonda Harvey &ndash; Aberfoyle Park SA</h4>

Rhonda Harvey – Aberfoyle Park SA

Rhonda Harvey began her nursing training at the age of 17 at the Calvary Hospital in North Adelaide, qualifying as a Registered Nurse 4 years later. At the time, the hospital was run by nuns and being married or having a boyfriend was not permitted.

After completing her training Rhonda moved to the Yorke Peninsula where she continued to train as a midwife, working in the local hospital. Wearing a white dress, navy blue cape and white head veil (she saved all of these gifting them to her granddaughter as a keepsake).

Like many of our early nurses, Rhonda remembers a fearsome Sister who ran the theatres and avoided her at all costs! Rhonda went on to work at the Regional Maitland Hospital and then the Griffith Hospital in Adelaide. A very happy place where she had fun with colleagues and patients.

<h4 class="text-dark-teal text-xl mb-3">Thea Newbold &ndash; Kensington Gardens</h4>

Thea Newbold – Kensington Gardens

Thea was also 17 when she began her nursing career. She had to complete two years of training in a Gawler country hospital before she could be transferred to the city (Royal Adelaide Hospital) where she then finished her training over two years.
Like many nurses at the time, Thea completed her General Nurse training and then went on to complete her Midwifery training, at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. She also assisted with obstetrics surgery as a theatre nurse.
Not being allowed to be married at the time didn’t bother Thea, as she wasn’t looking to get married, she was busy focusing on her career.
Her uniform was like many at the time, starched white collar and cap, a pink checkered dress, with a white starched apron. Times could be tough as a qualified nurse when she first qualified, Thea was working in a small country town in the Flinders Ranges often dealing with drunk and bleeding patients, but she was able to call the police when she needed to. She was also required to milk the cows, cook breakfast, set up the theatre and attend to normal nurses’ duties.
Thea went on to assist delivering over 750 babies and delivered one of the first babies to be affected by Thalidomide.
With a career spanning 35 years in nursing, Thea explained how rewarding it was with many happy, sad and wonderful memories.

<p>Lurlene Higson and her daughter Megan &ndash; Nambour</p>

Lurlene Higson and her daughter Megan – Nambour

It is so often the case that nursing as a profession runs in the family and that is certainly the case with Lurlene and Megan.
Lurlene began nursing when she was 17 in Calvary Hospital in Cairns, she was training as a Registered Nurse, but wasn’t happy that she wasn’t allowed to get married until after her training. Her duties, like most other nurses at the time, meant that she was “a jack of all trades” and included washing, nursing, medications and cooking – a far cry from today’s nursing duties.
Lurlene lived in the nurses’ quarters which was a long way away from her home and she eventually became a Charge Nurse, nursing for over 40 years.
Megan’s training was different, starting when she was 20 years old, graduating in 1992. At first, she was an Enrolled Nurse and then continued studying to be a Registered Nurse. Unlike her mum, marriage wasn’t even questioned. Megan worked across several wards, ICU, CCU, A&E and the medical and surgical wards.
Megan eventually became a Clinical Nurse trainer and is still nursing.

<p>June Cochrane &ndash; Toorak Gardens</p>

June Cochrane – Toorak Gardens


June Cochrane has had a very distinguished Nursing career, beginning when she was 18 years old when she began training at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. June then went on to study midwifery at Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne.

June has no regrets about choosing nursing as her career and went on to become the Executive Director at the Royal College of Nursing, Australia. She is also a published author with 42 years’ experience. June retired when at 60 years old with wonderful memories having instituted great developments in nursing practice.