42-year nurse Dunford cites technology, pay as biggest changes

As National Nurses Week 2010 comes to a close, it’s fitting to top the celebration with the words of Christine Dunford, one of the most experienced nurses around.

Dunford has been a nurse for 42 years and just celebrated her 35th anniversary at Community Medical Centers. She followed her mother’s path in joining the profession, and her relationship with Community was forged during her candy striper days back in the early 1960s. Today, Dunford works in the post anesthesia care unit at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno.

She recalls her first nursing job paid $3.50 an hour. Times may have changed, but this Community Regional R.N. says the dedication of nurses at Community and their willingness to teach each other hasn’t changed a bit.

 How long have you been a nurse?
Dunford: I graduated in January 1968 from Fresno State and started to work on 5B Pediatrics as a permittee, until that April when I received my licenses.

Why did you become a nurse?
Among my choices of teacher, secretary or nurse, nursing to me was a lot more exciting. I can’t sit behind a desk.

What journey did you take to become a nurse?
My mother worked at then Fresno Community Hospital on 4A (now 4 central) in the early 1960s as a registered nurse. I was given a scholarship of $500 on high school graduation from the hospital. That was enough for one year of college back then.

Why do you like working for Community Medical Centers?
I think a challenge is always present in nursing and it offers such a wide variety of career paths.  But most important, I like the people here.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in the nursing profession since you started?
Technology is the biggest change. Computers, IV pumps, procedural changes are all important. The complexity of the diseases and conditions we see with patients is also a big change.

What is your most memorable moment as a nurse?
The support of my coworkers through difficult personal times was invaluable.

What is your best piece of advice for new nurses?
Always be open to learning. Nursing is forever changing. Be willing to do the worst task along with the most interesting. No job is too small to our patients. Work as a team. Offer to help if you can and it will come back to you in folds.


This story was reported by Bonni Montevecchi. She can be reached at MedWatchToday@communitymedical.org.