Bernie Anderson from Stranorlar has retired this week after 38 dedicated years in her nursing career.
She followed in her mother’s footsteps Cathy who was a Ward Sister in St Joseph’s Hospital and this inspired Bernie to become a nurse too. Bernie started off as a student Nurse in Purdysburn Hospital, Belfast in 1982.
She said ‘The hospital was huge and there were over 1000 service users in Hospital at that time. It was right in the middle of “the troubles”, and I remember lots of bomb scares and queuing up to be searched when going shopping in the City Centre. After training in Mental Health Nursing I went to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington London to do my General Nursing, What an amazing Hospital it was, Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin there and I got to see Princess Diana as she opened the first Aids ward.
I worked in Whipps Cross Hospital London, then returned to Northern Ireland where I worked in Holywell Hospital Antrim for 9 years.
In 2000 I happily returned back to Donegal and obtained a staff nurse post. I completed the H Dip in 2006 and very soon after obtained a position as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Recovery Team in the Willows Letterkenny, where I remained until I retired last week.
It was a privilege to work with service users to help them achieve their goals and the team I worked with were just fantastic. We became more like a family than colleagues and I have made some brilliant friendships along the way.
The last year During the Covid 19 pandemic has been very challenging to work through. I have spent my 38 years as a nurse trying to encourage people to socialise and make links within the community, then all of a sudden I had to advise them to isolate and stay at home. Thankfully there is hope in the future with the vaccinations on the horizon, but the PANDEMIC has certainly taken its toll on people’s mental health.
Because of Covid 19 I had a very socially distanced send off from my workplace, but my friends and colleagues really made my last working days so very special and I found it a very emotional experience especially on my last day.
I consider myself so lucky to have had a wonderful career and be able to take early retirement.
I would like to concentrate on my Painting and artwork now as I am also passionate about creativity. https://www.facebook.com/berniefitzsimonsartwork/ It will be great to have more time to spend with my parents Cathy and Peter Anderson, my Partner Dominick , my 2 Children Niall and Katie, family and friends , walking ,yoga and cycling . Travel is also on the cards when things start moving again.
I would like to take this opportunity the thank everyone who I have worked with over the years for filling my working life with so much fun and laughter and happy memories to cherish. As I leave Nursing I’m hoping a priority is given to mental health funding in the future as is definitely going to be needed going forward’ she concluded. On a personal note Bernie I would like to wish you all the best on your retirement and look forward to another wee night out in Donegal Town with your sister Veronica of course!