Nurse still loving his job as he approaches the age of 80
Intensive care nurse Jimmy Cooper, who retired and then returned, says ‘keeping up’ with younger colleagues helps him stay ‘fit and young’
An intensive care nurse who retired from full-time work, only to return four months later because he was ‘bored’, is set to turn 80 this month.
Jimmy Cooper, who works at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, has worked in the health service for 50 years and says he has no plans to stop any time soon.
The benefit of ‘keeping up’ with younger colleagues
In an interview with BBC News, Mr Cooper explained that he retired from full-time nursing at the age of 69 but remained on the bank.
‘Going from full-time work to nothing, after about four months I was bored so I came back,’ he said.
Mr Cooper, who helps mentor nursing students, said ‘keeping up’ with younger colleagues helps him stay ‘fit and young’.
Nurse’s training was ‘totally different than today’
He told the BBC he had seen some big changes during his career, including increased use of technology and changes in nurse training.
‘The training was totally different than today – we trained on the ward and I was a bit of a novelty in those days because there were only six student male nurses and I was the only one in my group,’ he said.
Early experiences of being a male nurse
Mr Cooper recalled getting stopped in hospital corridors by people who wanted to know if he was ‘a male nurse’.
‘I used to say “no… I’m a nurse”. Even after I qualified I couldn’t work on a female ward, in fact I couldn’t even go through the door of a female ward. I was actually a qualified nurse for two years before I saw a female patient.’
‘We all aspire to nurse our patients like Jimmy does’
Consultant Brian McCloskey, who has worked with Mr Cooper for more than 20 years, described him as ‘one of the most caring and compassionate, enormously knowledgeable and experienced, and unflappable nurses that I could ever work with’.
Ward sister Heather O’Connor, who was mentored by Mr Cooper when she was a newly qualified nurse 16 years ago, said he had a ‘wealth of knowledge in terms of ICU nursing and just general nursing’.
She added: ‘His bedside manner is fabulous and we all do aspire to nurse our patients like Jimmy does.’
An increasing number of nurses are returning to work in the NHS after retirement following changes to pension rules and efforts to retain the skills and knowledge of highly experienced nursing staff.
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