Fifty years ago, Sharon Curtis-Flynn was told she wouldn't last in healthcare because she was “too highly-qualified” to be a nurse – being the only one of her peers starting out who had completed Year 12 at high school.
Now, the Gold Coast Private nursing stalwart is celebrating her golden anniversary in the industry. She has seen some major changes and improvements in medical care in her five decades of service:
When did you start nursing and what roles have you had throughout your career?
I started nursing in 1968, just after I completed Year 12. I come from a family of health workers – my mother was a nurse and my great-great-grandmother (the child of convicts) was a midwife. I started out in mental health nursing at Rozelle Hospital in Sydney, then travelled and worked in London for several years.
I spent 10 years working in an emergency department in inner Sydney, before moving to the Gold Coast to manage a number of medical centres. I have been working in anaesthetic departments on the Gold Coast for the past 18 years.
What do you think has changed in the industry over the past 50 years?
Technology has been the biggest change to all aspects of medical care. Overall I think this is a positive thing as robotics and computers assist with patient monitoring, which has generally led to a higher standard of care and improved safety.
Knowledge is power, and the new techniques and skills we have now have also led to better outcomes for patients. There is a much lower mortality rate now than from my years in the emergency department when defibrillation was the last thing done during a cardiac arrest.
What's special about Gold Coast Private?
I love working at Gold Coast Private and can genuinely say that the staff are more friendly here than at any other hospital in the city.
The brand-new building is state of the art and a pleasure to work in.
What are your future plans?
When I retire in a few years, I plan to do some nursing volunteer work in South East Asia.