Healthy turnout at nurses' 50-year get-together

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2014
Nell Smith, Bronwyn Phillips and Judy Osborne
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

HAPPY DAYS: Nell Smith, Bronwyn Phillips and Judy Osborne reminisce about old times at the 50th anniversary get-together of nurses who trained at Waikato Hospital.

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Judy Osborne and Nell Smith started nursing training together at Waikato Hospital in 1964.

The 17-year-olds were a picture of decorum and discipline with their spotless white uniforms, brushed hair and innocent smiles.

But at the 50-year reunion for the class in Hamilton yesterday, the pair admitted that the young nurses got up to their fair share of mischief, too.

It may not compare to the scandals depicted in television shows such as Shortland Street and Grey's Anatomy, but the class of January 1964 swooned over handsome doctors, sneaked back to their rooms late at night and developed a "dark humour" to cope with their, at times, unpleasant work.

The pair, who still work as nurses for a private healthcare service in Hamilton, chatted and giggled about the past at yesterday's luncheon as 50 years of memories came flooding back.

"There were some good looking doctors and a lot of them [nurses] teamed up with doctors," Mrs Osborne said.

"If you knew you were going to be late in for the night you'd stuff a pillow in the bed so that when the night sister went around to check if you were there there was a bump in your bed."

Mrs Osborne met her husband, Don, who was an attendant, while they were caring for the same patient.

Mrs Smith said there were not a lot of job options for young women in 1964.

"There was teaching, nursing, retail, hairdressing or office work. That would be all the options just about."

There were 72 women in the class of 1964, about 30 graduated to work at Waikato Hospital and more than 40 attended the reunion.

Mrs Smith's most vivid memories were of the close friendships the trainee nurses developed, which helped them cope with the gruelling work schedule.

"It was six days a week and you sometimes got the short straw and it was 12 days without a day off," she said.

"We came from such different backgrounds, but yet we were a unit. We always supported one another."

Mrs Smith said it was fabulous to be reunited with old friends and colleagues.

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- Waikato Times

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