Joanne Felstrom : 66 Years - Retired

Graduating in 1954 from the Winnipeg General Hospital School of Nursing, Joanne Felstrom has been a proud Registered Nurse for 66 years.

Joanne Felstrom has been a proud member of the nursing profession for 66 years, and while she has had an eventful career, she had chosen nursing long before she even started school. “My grandfather was a country doctor and I adored him. I wanted to become a nurse so I could be ‘Grandpa’s Nurse’,” remembered Felstrom. This early exposure to health care had a positive impact on Felstrom, even after experiencing her own health issues: “I personally experienced several hospital visits as a child. Even those didn’t deter me. I even loved the antiseptic smell that hospitals had in those days. I have never regretted choosing nursing.”

This lived experience in hospitals at an early age benefited Felstrom throughout her career. “Although I enjoyed all areas of my nursing practice, actual clinical practice gave me the most satisfaction,” noted Felstrom. “During our student experience at Winnipeg General Hospital, we all spent eight weeks at a Communicable Disease Hospital in Winnipeg. At the beginning of my third year, I had that rotation in August and September. It was 1953 and the height of the Polio Epidemic. The hospital had 90 patients on respirators. For six of these weeks, I worked nights looking after four young men in Iron Lungs.” Felstrom noted that it’s these very instances of patient resilience that inspired her throughout her career and even now. “Witnessing a patient’s courage and determination in the face of a potentially catastrophic illness will always inspire me.”

Felstrom concluded by reminding her fellow RNs of the importance of exemplary and compassionate care, and of their responsibility to the profession: “As a participant and observer of patient care for over half a century, I believe we as members of the nursing profession all have a responsibility to maintain a high standard of client care, to mentor and assist new members of the profession and if necessary to intervene and/or report unsafe or negligent situations.”

“Be sure nursing is what you want. It can be a fulfilling and rewarding career if you love it. If it is just a job, it’s not for you. Find out as much as you can about the profession and the varying work opportunities there can be. Try to get some exposure to the environment and work of a nurse. And do volunteer work if that is a possibility in your community” Joanne Felstrom

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