Nurse of the Year has given 10 years of service to Bermuda
Dorcas Francis was stunned to be named the 2013 Nurse of the Year by her peers, despite more than three decades of work.
“I actually fell back in my chair because I really didn’t expect it,” she said yesterday. “It’s wonderful, not just for me, but for my department and the hospital.
“Everyone was a worthy candidate, so you can imagine my shock and great amazement when they did a drum roll and said my name.
“I’m still overwhelmed. When you are nominated by your peers, especially people you respect for their professionalism, it’s a very humbling experience.”
Despite having several nurses in her family, Ms Francis said she had no interest in becoming a nurse when she was growing up in the UK.
“The standing joke in my family is when I was very little I would say ‘I will never be a nurse’. I wanted to be a teacher,” she said.
“I applied for the course way, way, way back and I found out, even back in my nurse training, that I really enjoyed it. I have stayed with it since.”
She initially started in adult intensive care after becoming qualified in 1980, but eventually decided to retrain for paediatrics intensive care. It was then when she was introduced to neonatal care.
“I was just blown away. I realised I just love this. I was there for six weeks and, on my last day, the manager of the unit said if I decide to leave paediatrics, there will be a job for me in neonatal. Just write to him. So that’s what I did,” she said.
In 2002, she left her position at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry, England, for a job at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. She said the highlight of her work since arriving in Bermuda is watching the babies grow and develop, while developing a relationship with their family members.
“The wonderful thing is that the parents do bring their children back to visit us,” she said. “At Christmas time we get all sorts of pictures.
“In Hamilton I will be walking and just hear ‘Dorcas, look at your baby’. I’ve been here for ten years so I’ve had the chance to watch the children grow and blossom.”
However, she said the job also carries an emotional weight when patients are struggling.
“You don’t just walk away,” she said. “When there are situations where a baby is critically ill, many times I will start worrying in the middle of the night and call in to ask how they are doing, if they have stabilised.”
In addition to nursing, Ms Francis works with both the Mirrors Programme and Uplift International, a Christian organisation, which provides free medical care in the African nation of Malawi.
“These are people who would otherwise not see a doctor or nurse or have access to medical care,” he said. “The people who come to see us often walk four or five miles. On a given day we will see between 250 and 400 people.
“We see everyone that needs to be seen, or stay until we run out of medication. Sometimes we take so much for granted, but when we go into these remote villages we see that they are content with what they have, and what they have they are happy to share.”
She advised anyone looking into entering the nursing field to focus on general nursing at first to lay a groundwork before moving into any of the specific areas of expertise.
“Years ago when I got started, if someone said I would be looking after premature babies I would have said they must have been joking,” she said. “With general nursing it gives you a basic overview.”