On May 7th, 2019, there was a very special celebration among staff members at Tacoma General Hospital. Birthday parties are held at workplaces all over the world, but how many businesses can say they have thrown a birthday party for a 94-year-old registered nurse? Florence “See See” Rigney has been devoted to patient care since she became a nurse back in 1946. This very special nurse has held the record for being the oldest registered nurse in America for many years. As she shows no signs of stopping, Florence continues to change the lives of patients and her coworkers.
The Start Of A Long Career
Rigney has always had a passion for nursing. When Rigney wanted to become a nurse back in the 1940s, the job market was very different than the current one. Nursing was a low paying job, and some people looked down on the profession. Rigney’s parents wanted her to be a secretary because that was seen as a more successful career than nursing. Despite her parent’s advice, Rigney went for nursing.
She has been working at Tacoma General Hospital for the past 73 years. When she hit retirement age, Rigney did retire like most other nurses in their 60s, but that break from the world of nursing lasted for less than a year. Rigney began to miss working and caring for patients, so she went back to work full time. The hospital was glad to have her back! She had always been one of the best employees, and she continued to do a phenomenal job. As the decades continued to pass, Rigney realized that she still was not ready to give up her career. She has decided to slow things down a little. Now, she works a reduced work week of two eight-hour shifts per week, rather than the three or more twelve-hour shifts per week that are common in the nursing industry.
A Day In The Life Of The Oldest American Nurse
Any ideas that Florence Rigney sits behind a desk or does some kind of easy job are absolutely wrong! Rigney is still a surgical nurse, the same type of nurse she has always been. Like all of the other surgical nurses at Tacoma General Hospital, Rigney is responsible for getting the equipment in each surgical suite prepared to the surgeon’s liking. She also makes sure patients are medically ready for surgery and comforts them by holding their hand as they are wheeled to the operating room. One day, Rigney’s Fitbit said that she had walked more than two miles while working. On top of working, she also does continuing education to keep her skills fresh.
While Rigney loves her job, she understands that there will come a day when she must retire. She has had several one-on-one conversations with her manager to make sure the manager feels that she is still capable of doing a great job. So far, Rigney still outpaces the rest of her coworker. She is known for being a delightful team member who is ready to pitch in a get the job done. Coworkers have recounted many times when Rigney left them in the dust to finish a tag. She doesn’t like standing around, and she wants to be working for as much of her shift as possible. When it comes to speed, accuracy, Rigney always meets or exceeds the other surgical nurses.
A Beloved Staff Member
Florence Rigney is well-known for her age, but she is also famous for her one of a kind personality. Rigney has done more than work as a nurse for 73 years. Along the way, she has touched the lives of countless patients and coworkers with her kind spirit and stellar bedside manner, and the Tacoma General Hospital staff does a great job at showing her just how much she is appreciated. It has become a bit of a tradition to give Rigney a surprise birthday party every year. You can watch Rigney’s 90th birthday celebration here.
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