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Nurse bows out after 37 years of care

PUBLISHED: 20:45 26 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:56 03 March 2010

AFTER 37 years at the sharp end of the medical profession, an Ipswich nurse has bowed out.

Hospital stalwart Jan Beck, who spent 28 years of her distinguished career in the accident and emergency ward, joined the staff of the hospital in 1966 at the age of 18.

AFTER 37 years at the sharp end of the medical profession, an Ipswich nurse has bowed out.

Hospital stalwart Jan Beck, who spent 28 years of her distinguished career in the accident and emergency ward, joined the staff of the hospital in 1966 at the age of 18.

Looking back on her service to the people of Suffolk and beyond, Mrs Beck said: "There are too many happy moments for me to list them all. The worst part will be leaving my colleagues."

But she added: "There are things I won't miss. The job is much more technical now, and it's very stressful. I won't miss living to a rigid schedule. And there's a lot of pressure."

Mrs Beck, of Adelaide Road, Ipswich, has seen attitudes to the nursing profession change over the years.

"I think people see it as a career path now. When I started, we used to see it as a vocation," she said.

But some things never change, she added: "It's always been the case that nurses have been badly paid."

"It's not a job you can do by halves, whether you're tending the dying child, or just emptying the bedpan. You go from one extreme to the other."

Changes in the kind of accidents Mrs Beck has witnessed over the years reflects the way society and the law has changed.

"It used to be quite normal for us to treat people with very bad head injuries, where they had fallen off motorbikes – because people didn't wear crash helmets.

"And before seat belts, we would get people with terrible facial injuries where they had gone through the windscreen. We don't get anywhere near as many cases of that kind as we used to," she said.

But not everything has changed for the better. "There are a lot more drugs around now," Mrs Beck said.

Mrs Beck rose to become a nurse specialist, a senior nurse who sees patients in her own right. So after 37 years of experience, does she know more than the doctors?

"No, of course not – because you're constantly learning," she said.

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