Joan Dearlove, RN, Marks 50 Years at Glens Falls Hospital

A Q & A on Dearlove's Half-Century on the Job

Do you remember your first day?

Yes, it was December 17, 1973. It was a Monday, and it was snowing. I worked at the switchboard to begin with. I had worked for the telephone company when I went to college. Then I went to nursing school. I worked at the switchboard for six months and then in June, when I passed my boards, went into the nursing department.

And where did you start in nursing?

I was always on a surgical floor. I started on 3 Central, and back then you kind of did six months on a surgical unit, maybe six months on a medical floor, so you really had a much longer orientation. Back then, there was a head nurse, an assistant head nurse, and a med nurse. You really had time to feel comfortable in the RN role.

Have you been working on 4 West for a long time?

Well, I was on the designated orthopedic unit, which we didn’t need as time went on. But I’ve always done surgical units because I really like that pace. Orthopedic surgery back then was nice, clean surgery – still is! – but if people came in for total hips or knees, they were here 10 to 14 days…

10 to 14 days? Wow!

Yup! So that just shows how things have changed. And that’s what’s been fun all these years, to keep your interest: all these new advances and techniques. That’s what’s made it interesting for me.

If you had patients for 10 to 14 days, you must have really gotten to know them.

Sure. You got to know them and their families. You basically were their physical therapist too, because you truly got them up for their meals…but it was always fun because they’d be almost pain-free after being in so much pain beforehand.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen between when you started to work to now?

Back then, we all wore white. And women wore dresses. It was a big thing when we moved to a pantsuit with tailored slacks and a top. Now, we all wear scrubs which is much more sensible. Surgeries have come so far. Back then, you’d have those big incision lines. Now we have the small laparoscopic incisions that are glued. Back then we’d be taking out sutures and staples.

I’d love to know about some of your happiest memories at the hospital.

I guess I would just say: the people I’ve worked with over the years. I’ve worked with people where we had time to really kind of know each other, and as our children were growing or you had family issues, we had time to support each other. So I think it would just be the support of the people I’ve worked with.

I could ask you a million more questions, but I’ll close with: what is your “why” for being here for 50 years?

Because I’ve enjoyed my job. I’ve enjoyed patient care, I like being hands-on, I’ve enjoyed just being part of all these new things that have come along in nursing. I enjoy being with patients, taking care of them, seeing them improve, and supporting them in times that they weren’t doing so well or when there were families that needed that support. It’s been really nice to feel needed and to have something to do and a reason to get up and going. And I still enjoy it. And I think that’s it: you have to enjoy your work. You have to really keep wanting to do it.