Tribune Print Share Text

Title

Retired nurses reminisce

Memorable experiences from unique careers

Created date

July 31st, 2017
(Top row, from left) Lorie Stapp, Fran Schrunk, Betty Reinig, Phyllis Calvert, Jennie Pumphrey, Georgia Oehrle, Marge Arnott, Tippy McMorris, Elaine Alexander, and (bottom row, from left) Arlene Lindley, Betsy Heimke, and Ann Brazil.

(Top row, from left) Lorie Stapp, Fran Schrunk, Betty Reinig, Phyllis Calvert, Jennie Pumphrey, Georgia Oehrle, Marge Arnott, Tippy McMorris, Elaine Alexander, and (bottom row, from left) Arlene Lindley, Betsy Heimke, and Ann Brazil.

Five years ago, retired nurses Ann Brazil, Betsy Heimke, and Paua Dunmire gathered several of their fellow retired nurse neighbors to celebrate National Nurses Week. The group, who all live at Tallgrass Creek, an Erickson Living retirement community in Overland Park, Kans., enjoyed an afternoon high tea while sharing memorable experiences from their unique careers. They had so much fun that they have been meeting every other month since.   

The group is known as Retired Nurses Reminiscing (RNR), and their number has grown from the original 12 to 23 at last count. Ann, who coordinates the semi-monthly meetings, also belongs to the community’s hospitality committee, which always welcomes new residents. 

“It’s helpful because I can identify new members for RNR as they move in,” says Ann, a former military nurse who served in Vietnam. “I’ve not met a nurse who doesn’t want to join us.”   

Some things never change

The RNR group usually hosts medical professionals to speak about current health concerns and what it is like to be a nurse in today’s complex health care environment. Conversely, the speakers always like to hear the nurses tell stories about their individual experiences.

But as the retired nurses talk with today’s doctors and nurses, they find some things have not changed. 

“Though today’s nurses no longer wear white caps and uniforms and have much more technology at their fingertips, they still have one thing in common with us,” says Ann. “They sometimes make life-changing decisions quickly in a ‘no two days are alike’ environment. It can be quite stressful.” 

At a recent RNR gathering, new community member and retired nurse Fran Schrunk met up with Betsy Heimke. The two worked together 28 years ago at a local hospital.

“We hadn’t seen each other since then,” says Fran. “It was great to reconnect and catch up.”

The group still celebrates National Nurses Week every May, which always culminates with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. They read the Florence Nightingale pledge created in 1893 to honor Nightingale’s contributions and enjoy dessert together. 

As Hummingbird Square, Tallgrass Creek’s newest residence building, will begin welcoming residents soon, the RNR membership will certainly continue growing.  

“We’re one of the few groups here that is kind of a closed club,” says Ann. “Having worked in  sometimes hectic, intense health care situations gives us a unique bond. We all realized early on that our jobs weren’t just jobs. They were callings.”

 

Comments