Iron Lung sparks nursing career dream

A chance encounter visiting her local hospital at just 11 years of age sparked a nursing career dream for one of our veteran registered nurses, Bev Christison, who was joined by colleagues in Villa 1 yesterday to celebrate and recognise an incredible 45 years of service.

Proud of her Hawke's Bay nursing career which spans across hospital specialties and outpatient settings in Napier and Hastings, Bev began her career as a cadet nurse at Dannevirke Hospital aged 16.

"I knew I always wanted to be a nurse when aged 11 I happened to be visiting at the hospital where I walked past a side room and saw a person in the Iron Lung," she said.

Between the 1930s and 1950s the 'Iron Lung' saved thousands of people, mostly children, by mimicking the way the body's chest muscles and diaphragm move air into and out of the lungs. 

 "When I saw that person in the Iron Lung, I thought I'd like to be there helping so from that moment on my dream was to become a nurse.

"Ironically I ended up, by chance, nursing in the Napier Hospital Intensive Care Unit looking after the modern version of ventilation." 

A much loved HBDHB colleague and friend to many, Bev helped illustrate her 45 years of nursing by displaying photographs in Villa 1 throughout her career which included her graduation, team photos with Napier and Hastings colleagues over the years, and even a nurses ball photo back in the 1960s.

"I have so many fond memories. Our uniforms were quite unique back in the day.  We used to have to travel to and from work in a blue uniform and then get changed into our whites once we arrived at the hospital," she says.

“I have also been so fortunate to work across many specialties such as with the elderly, in urology, general surgical, vascular, ICU, rheumatology, renal, pain, orthopaedics, respiratory, infectious diseases and neurology.

“Things change and evolve with time and certainly COVID-19 has made life interesting.  I feel very fortunate to be working with a great team in Villa 1 , doing what I love looking after general and minor surgical patients.”

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