Students and staff don vintage uniforms to mark International Nurses Day
La Trobe University nursing lecturers and students from its Shepparton campus have marked International Nurses Day by dressing up in vintage uniforms.
At a celebratory breakfast at the campus, a mixture of brightly coloured, pin-striped and starched white uniforms, red capes, stiff caps, and shiny badges provided a talking point for staff and students about the profession's past, present and future.
Nursing staff wore their old outfits while students donned their mums' or aunts' well-kept uniforms.
Nursing lecturer Jenny Bassett donned her canary-yellow training uniform and Victorian nurses' badge.
"In 1989 when I graduated, we would hold a candle and make a pledge about being a good nurse and serving our communities and the badge was pinned on us," she said.
Ms Bassett, who was trained at Echuca Regional Health, said she was one of the last hospital-trained nurses in this region.
"We did more training in Bendigo and then we went to all the regional hospitals including Mildura, Maryborough, Castlemaine, Echuca, Bendigo and others."
Ms Basset said she was pleased nurses' uniforms had evolved to present-day scrubs.
She said pre-scrubs uniforms restricted movement.
"Especially in the days before the no-lift programs, where we were lifting patients up onto the beds.
"When I graduated in 1989, I went to a white uniform and again it was very impractical to do your job," she said.
First-year nursing student Audrey Sproules was honoured to wear her aunt's blue nursing uniform and red cape.
"She trained at the Geelong Hospital in 1971 and this is her original uniform, she was a midwife at the Ballarat Hospital for about 30 years," she said.
Ms Sproules said the uniforms provided a great talking point into the faculty's nursing experience and the profession's history.
"I didn't know that each hospital had its own uniform."
Ms Sproules was inspired to become a nurse after spending time in hospital with family members.
Ms Bassett said despite ongoing disputes over nurses' pay and conditions, it was "a great time to be a nurse".
"I remember in 1988 we were on strike, and I remember sitting on the picket line out the front of Echuca Hospital to improve the wages of nurses.
"The story is still the same today, but I think the profession has come a long way in other respects."
She said technology used for diagnosis, communication and record-keeping had helped provide great advances for the profession.
Ms Bassett said the profession has shown resilience over the past few years.
"It has been hard for people working in the hospitals looking after people during COVID, as people have been scared, apprehensive and anxious.
"I think the profession has stood tall and proud and led the community through what has been unprecedented years," she said.
Ms Bassett said the theme for 2022 International Nurses Day was "A Voice to Lead — Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health".
"It is about empowering nurses to lead as part of interdisciplinary teams to ensure our communities wellbeing, not only in hospitals but in other healthcare areas.
"Doctors are becoming sparse in regional and remote areas and quite often nurses practitioners are leading the way.
"I'm hoping about 50 per cent of our nurses will go on to be nurse practitioners because I think that is probably the way of the future in health in regional areas," she said.