Colette Vize has been working as a nurse on the frontline for over 30 years while also juggling being a mother to three children.
The clinical nurse manager of the stroke rehabilitation unit at the Louth County Hospital told how the shifts are often long and anti-social but she wouldn’t want to be in any other career.
Colette, who has been a nurse for 31 years in the Dundalk hospital, has been on the frontline, along with her colleagues, throughout the pandemic with them working up to 14 hour shifts in full PPE caring for their patients when there was a Coivd outbreak in the hospital recently.
She said it was a very difficult time for staff, patients and their families, but thankfully they have now come out the other side and the worst of it is over.
The busy nurse is also the chairperson of the Dundalk branch of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and has fought tirelessly for our local hospital.
Colette said: “I was going on to be an English teacher but during the summer holidays before I started studying for it, I decided I wanted to be a nurse.
“I have an aunt who is a nurse and my cousin was born with a disability.
“She managed to care for him and keep doing nursing, she inspired me to become a nurse.
“That is why I decided I wanted to become a nurse, I just knew it was the career for me.
“I did my nursing training in England and afterwards myself and my husband when to Australia in 1988.
“Times were hard in England and Ireland for nurses and going to Australia gave me the opportunity to experience nursing in a different country while also seeing some of the world.”
Colette became a nurse in the Louth County Hospital in 1990, where she started of as a staff nurse and worked hard becoming a clinical nurse manager, while juggling family life and three children.
“I got the opportunity to work in so many aspects of nursing from casualty to specialising in areas and becoming clinical nurse manager of the stroke rehabilitation unit”, she said.
“The shifts can be long and anti-social and there were times when I was working 12 hour shifts seven nights a week.
“There were missed weddings, funerals, christenings and plays and sports days when my children were younger.
“There were times when my husband had to be father and mother as family life does take a back seat when you are in the nursing profession.
“I am lucky to have a very supportive husband and three great children.
“There are tough times and difficult times, but nursing is also extremely rewarding.
“I never once thought about leaving nursing – I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
As chairperson of the Dundalk branch of the INMO Colette fought hard to try to save the maternity and surgical units at Louth County Hospital.
She said: “It was important for nurses to have a voice and for them to be represented.
“We protested and fought hard to save the maternity and surgical units.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t save them, but the hospital continues to have specialised areas, such as stroke rehabilitation and palliative care.
“I fought hard for the hospital and I am still fighting hard for the hospital 31 years later.”
Colette said throughout her nursing career she made life-long friends.
“We go through some really tough times together that you can’t talk to anybody else about.
“We are all in it together and stick together, supporting and helping each other as nobody else really understands.
“I have made friends for life through my career.
“There can be tough times, and bad times but there are such rewarding moments.”