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May 6, 2013

Stuckert reflects on changes in nursing industry

DUNCAN — Even up to just a few decades ago, hospital nursing staff put up with disrespect and discrimination but today there is an entire week dedicated to showing these hardworking individuals honor for all they do.

Beginning today with RN Recognition Day, National Nurses Week runs until Sunday, May 12. Many hospitals around the country will be doing things to thank the nurses for all they do to keep those facilities running smoothly.

Florence Stuckert has seen many of the changes, not only in the medical field, but in the treatment of nurses during her more than 40 years as a nurse. Stuckert graduated from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, a former hospital of Duncan, in 1968.

“It was a three year program and it was a lot more hands on than it is now,” Stuckert said, describing the learning on your feet methods that were once used. “It was a teaching hospital and there were all types of students there and the patients were aware that students would be in charge of some of their care.”

At that time, Stuckert wanted to be an obstetric nurse and her first job was at Norman Regional Hospital in its delivery center. She went part-time for a couple of years and when she came back to nursing full time around 1980, it was into geriatric care with home health.

“I found that taking care of the geriatric generation was my love,” she said. “In 1986, Betty Apple hired me to open up a skilled nursing facility in Duncan Regional Hospital because I had home health and Medicare knowledge and could set that up.”

With a 12-bed unit, everything Stuckert did after than branched off the facility. However, being a nurse was not always seen as a respectable job. While nurses were expected to stand when a doctor entered the room, doctors didn’t always return that show of respect.

“I was once changing a bandage and overheard a doctor say to another person “That’s one good thing nurses are for, they always have bandages,’” said Stuckert.

“It was disrespectful but it was a different environment. Now there is mutual respect and that’s where it needs to be because we all have jobs to do and we have to work together to get it all done.”

With all the new findings that have occurred throughout the decades, continued education was a must for Stuckert and her fellow nurses. She went back to school for her bachelor’s degree in business and received her master’s in nursing in 2007.

In her 27 years at DRH, some of Stuckert’s responsibilities have included supervisor for discharge planning, working in Chisholm Trail Hospice, working in the psychiatric unit, and director of Extended Care Services. She said National Nurses Week is a chance too look back on all of that.

“It offers me a chance to reflect on my career as a nurse and all we do to get to do that kind of care,” she said. “It can be stressful but all that you get back from (the job) outweighs any of the negative.”

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