By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
IF Karen Farrington’s constant interest in caring for persons in need at a young age was not an indication that she would one day become a healthcare professional, her fascination with toy doctor sets and pretending to give injections to everyone around her was a sure giveaway.
Now, as her illustrious career as a registered nurse which spanned more than 34 years comes to an end, Nurse Farrington said looking back it seems almost surreal that she was granted the opportunity to live out her childhood dream in this way.
Nurse Farrington had the opportunity to reflect on decades of service, personal sacrifices and the lives she has impacted during a special retirement celebration held over the weekend.
Embarking on her career on February 1, 1982, when she was just 17 years old, Nurse Farrington attended the Bahamas School of Nursing. She graduated in 1983 as a trained clinical nurse and received an in-service award in 1995 in this capacity.
She continued her education at the College of the Bahamas, where she received an Associate of Science degree in Nursing in 1999. A year later she was promoted to registered nurse.
“From a very young age I realised that nursing was the profession that God had called me to do. As a child I was always fascinated with the toy doctors set and would pretend I was a nurse giving an injection to make someone well again. I always enjoyed caring and was willing to help other persons in need,” she said.
Over the years, Nurse Farrington’s work has taken her to the various wards at the Princess Margaret Hospital, including the maternity ward, the nursery, the gynaecology ward, the female medical ward, the children’s ward, the neonatal intensive care unit, and the surgical clinics.
She transferred to the Department of Public Health in 1989 and worked at the Elizabeth Estates, South Beach and Fleming Street Clinics, as well as in District Nursing, in the Chronic Noncommunicable Disease Programme (CNCD), and now in her last assignment, with the Eye Project.
Now reality is setting in for the new retiree and she said feels mixed emotions about ending this chapter of her life.
“My time in nursing has been amongst the best years of my working life. I have gained many skills and qualifications along the way. I have countless experiences – too many to mention – that have impacted my life in a memorable and meaningful way. I also need to acknowledge just how much I have been shaped by my colleagues and friends in this profession,” she told Tribune Woman.
One of the main things Nurse Farrington said she loves about the field of healthcare is that it is a profession that never stops giving.
“You learn new things every day. I feel so good inside when I see improvements in my patients. Sharing my knowledge is also something that I love. Almost every aspect of nursing involves teaching and sharing knowledge to promote health and lifestyle change. Teaching others to care for themselves requires a nurse being well-versed in everything medical. For example, teaching a patient about their medications and other self-management techniques. For me, nursing is the most rewarding, diverse, and flexible career,” she said.
But every profession has it’s pros and cons, and nursing is no different. While she enjoyed nursing the sick back to health and educating patients, Nurse Farrington said she found it particularly frustrating that her potential was not maximised in the way she hoped it would be.
“The most challenging part of my career in the Department of Public Health was becoming stagnant. I wanted to do a little more and to be able to utilise my skills. Opportunities for you to really excel and advance are very limited and sometimes you go above and beyond the call of duty many times, but it’s hardly recognised,” she said.
But ultimately, she said, the highs outweighed the lows, and this is what kept her in the job for more than three decades. One major highlight of Nurse Farrington’s experience, she said, was working with diabetes patients from 2005 until her retirement.
“With a desire to improve the quality of life for diabetics and the prevention of diabetes through education and self-management techniques, I became a Caribbean certified diabetic educator, foot care assistant trainer, and lifestyle coach in diabetes prevention. I also completed fundamentals of chronic kidney disease, became a certified ophthalmic registered nurse, clinical skilled trainer and taught diabetes education for nurses and patients throughout New Providence and the Family Islands. I was able to travel international and regionally attending conferences to stay current,” she said.
While she may be leaving the Department of Public Health, her love for the nursing profession remains strong.
“I plan to work part-time. I would also continue diabetes education with the Diabetes Association of the Bahamas. My ultimate goal is become an entrepreneur,” she told Tribune Woman.