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Sheryl celebrates a great career

Friday, 3rd January, 2020

Sheryl Rowlands Sheryl Rowlands

By Emily McInerney

Sheryl Rowlands saw in the New Year by celebrating her retirement from the hospital after three decades working as a nurse. 

Sheryl began her nurses training in 1977 at the age of 17 and worked until 1991.

She had a brief stint as a residential care worker which spanned another decade before coming back to the hospital in 2003.

“I commenced back at the new hospital in 2003 with the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol team where I have remained until now,” she said.

“I wanted to be a nurse because when I was younger and my Nan was in the hospital, we lived around the corner and I would go and feed her, her tea.

“It’s been completely different every time and I’ve loved every bit of it.” 

Sheryl thanked the people she had met over the years for making it a rewarding experience.

“Working at the hospital has been very rewarding and definitely some of the best years of my life. 

“The friendships that I have made will be forever. Thank you for the wonderful memories which I will always treasure.

“I am so blessed to have spent my working life in jobs which I truly loved.”

She said there had been a lot of technological advancements in nursing and how procedures were conducted.

“When I commenced my nurses training at the Broken Hill and District Hospital, it was hospital-based nursing training,” she said.

“This allowed us to have patient contact at the hospital while learning nursing skills in the classroom.”

Sheryl said the earliest accepted entry age was 17 years.

The training involved courses in Medical, Surgical, Paediatric, Geriatric, Accident and Emergency, Infectious diseases, Operating Theatre procedures, Coronary Care, Mental Health, Community Nursing and Midwifery.

“During the course of the training we were rostered a certain amount of time in every department of the hospital.

“If we were rostered on call in theatre we would sleep at the nurses’ home (at the back of the hospital) for the night.

“You had to report for duty at least 15 minutes early for the handover report and we were expected to know the names and conditions of up to 30 patients.”

Junior nurses did the basic nursing duties and as they progressed, they did more advanced procedures and tasks.

“Whilst I loved working in all of the departments, I really enjoyed my time working on the blood trolley which involved taking all of the bloods and doing the electrocardiograms (ECGs).

“Whenever the patients would see me wheel the trolley in they would say; ‘Look out, here comes the vampire’.”

After 1991, Sheryl worked at Silverlea for the next 10 years as a residential care worker.

“This involved providing care which would include bathing, toileting, dressing and feeding.

“It also included teaching daily living skills like budgeting, shopping and providing leisure and creative activities in a safe and supportive setting.

“I was the house supervisor of the Carbon Street home for a number of years.

“This also was a very rewarding job which I loved.”

Then in 2003, Sheryl went back to the new hospital, the Far West Local Health District, where she remained.

“I worked with the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol team as the Opioid Treatment Program co-ordinator which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

“When I commenced it was a non-funded part time position and within a couple of years with on the job training it became a fully funded full time position.

“I am currently the longest serving OTP worker since it commences in the old hospital in the early 1990s.”

Sheryl officially retired on January 1, 2020, having spent the last 10 months on long-service leave.

“I am so blessed to have spent my working life in jobs which I truly loved but now it is time to sit back and enjoy more time with the family.

“I’ve met a lot of people, there were two lots of training groups each year and often there would be 30 nurses in each group.

“I’m still friends with a lot of them now.

“You don’t forget them or the doctors, the patients and their families.

“I’ve been privileged to witness many things from births and deaths; happy and sad moments, fulfilling and awful moments.”

She said it was a hard decision to make to retire but she wanted to do it while she still had her health, could travel and be  with her family.

“It has been very rewarding. It is sad knowing I don’t have a job.

“The department held a morning tea for me a couple of weeks ago and they said some lovely things.

“(Sheryl was based in pharmacy) and when the pharmacy girls came in, I just started crying.

“I’ve had a very nice career, I’ve been very lucky.”

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