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Speaking to an event organised for International Nurses Day at Dunedin Hospital yesterday, the 78-year-old said she now believed she should not have retrained in medicine.
Now retired in Mosgiel, Dr Blackburn had a successful career in general practice after practising as a nurse. She had gained an appreciation of the relationship nurses enjoyed with patients, especially in hospital.
''The nurse is the closest to the patient,'' she said.
Patients picked up non-verbal communication from nurses to a greater extent than what was said. Nurses had to prioritise the needs of patients, and also had to take time out for themselves to recharge.
''They may not remember your name or face, but they will remember how much you cared for them,'' Dr Blackburn said.
Also speaking at yesterday's ceremony, Balclutha nurse practitioner Gayle Lindley told the nurses about the ''long difficult process'' of attaining the top tier nursing role. She felt that if she could achieve the expert nurse registration, others could.
Her ''journey'' to becoming a nurse practitioner included stints in isolated West Coast communities, where she was the only clinician on call.
Awards were presented to those who had demonstrated nursing or midwifery excellence. The recipients were: Bec Flamank, Nisha Yijayan, Cathy Phillips, Jan Seuseu, Shirley Bell, Paula Sharp, Raewyn Hodgson, Frances McCaffrey and Annie Marshall.