Eileen Curley had always wanted to become a nurse from the time she was a little girl growing up in Nine Mile Creek, PEI because she has always enjoyed caring and doing for others.
Eileen’s long-time dream was realized when she graduated from the Charlottetown Hospital School of Nursing in 1964. Throughout her 48-year nursing career, she has worked in the Emergency department, ICU and was a supervisor at the Charlottetown Hospital for some time. For the past 15 years, Eileen has worked full-time in the Diagnostic Imaging department at the QEH in Charlottetown.
“They were having some troubles in this department and someone asked me if I would join the team to help turn things around. They said to me, ‘Eileen, if anyone can do this, it’s you.’ So, I said I would try it out for 3 months and if I didn’t like it, I would go back to my old job. But, I loved it and have been here ever since!”
The 69-year-old, warm and cheerful RN can’t think of a day that she didn’t want to come to work. She never wears a watch and says she just keeps going until her duties are complete, whether that’s at 3:30 or 5 p.m. A typical day in Diagnostic Imaging would see Eileen carrying out a variety of tasks including setting up surgical trays, performing lung, liver, thyroid, breast or pancreatic biopsies, lung drainages, removal of abscesses, ultrasounds, stereotactic mammograms, ordering supplies, among other things. For the last 7 years, the department has been using the PAC system for digital imaging, making the large and heavy films obsolete and her job a little easier. Eileen has seen many changes in technology over the course of her nursing career and is grateful for those that make life easier for not just her and her staff, but for patients as well. The CT scan, for example, has revolutionized the way that blocked aortic or leg vessels are treated. Patients used to have to spend a whole day in hospital for this procedure. Now, it takes only a couple of hours with the newer technology.
But, with all of the machines and devices that are used to help patients, Eileen says the most important element in any room has to be the human one. “You can have all the life-saving technology you want, but if you don’t have compassion for your patients and a human touch, those things really don’t matter. People need to know you care, even if it’s just a few simple, kind gestures or words of positivity. That can make all the difference in the world.”
Eileen’s caring nature and wealth of knowledge has earned her the respect of her patients as well as her co-workers. She was a preceptor at one time and also taught radiography within the Diagnostic Imaging department. She thoroughly enjoyed these roles, helping out younger RNs, lifting them up with her words of encouragement and living by the mantra, ‘No question is a stupid question.’ She says Registered Nurses need to know so much in order to do their jobs well. They also have to really want to be in that role.
“Nursing has been the most rewarding experience for me, personally. I would never have wanted to do anything else.” It seems the passion for nursing runs in Eileen’s family as she has both a daughter and a sister working as Registered Nurses in Charlottetown as well.
Approaching the age of 70, Eileen says her family would like her to retire soon. She and her husband, Kevin have 3 daughters, 1 son and 5 grandsons who she would like to spend more time with. She also enjoys volunteering and being with friends.