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40 years of compassion: our longest-serving nurse celebrates International Nurses Day

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A wise person once said “Life begins at 40”. Another wise person, Eileen McKeown, brings 40 years of nursing practice to the table, and says her years in the industry have brought her several lifetimes of experience.

Eileen McKeown will celebrate her 40th year of employment as an Enrolled Nurse (EN) with Catholic Healthcare on July 7, making her the longest serving nurse employed by the organisation.

On International Nurses Day, appropriately-themed “Nurses: A Voice to Lead”, Eileen will be celebrating with her colleagues at Jemalong Residential Village in Forbes, where their nurses station will be brightly decorated in appreciation of hard-working nurses worldwide.

She says the theme for this year’s day is crucial to giving nurses the confidence to speak up.

“The Nursing industry should be recognised and promoted as a leading career opportunity,” she says. “The people working in the industry are professional, skilled leaders who play a vital role to people lives within the communities. Nursing can be very hard and demanding but the personal satisfaction is one of the greatest rewards a worker will ever feel.”

Eileen also comments on her passion for young nurses to be supported in pursuing appropriate training, an initiative Catholic Healthcare recently introduced with the Graduate Nursing program.

The program offers recipients financial support in undertaking a course of study. The grant can be applied towards course fees, or other associated expenses such as textbooks and accommodation.

Eileen says the organisation’s commitment to residents’ health and safety and the support of training for staff is a defining factor in her choice to work for Catholic Healthcare.

“I think having a good support team around you helps,” she says. “[It’s great] that you have the support of management and that they are approachable if you need to talk with them and know you will be listened to if the need arises”.

International Nurses Day is being celebrated across Catholic Healthcare on Friday May 12.