Valley nurse celebrates 55 years of service | Lifestyles


RICHLANDS, VA – James Burke, LPN, medical / surgical unit nurse recently celebrated his 55th working anniversary at Clinch Valley Health – Burke’s first and only employer.

Burke sat down with an interview to get his take on reaching such an extraordinary career milestone.

After graduating from high school, Burke began his first job as a nurse. He worked as a nurse for about five years and during that time the supervising nurse informed him of the possibility of attending state boards without having to attend nursing school. If he could pass the state councils, he could become a nurse. His supervisor encouraged him to take the boards and despite his nervousness, he succeeded.

Burke attributes his field experience to his preparation for boards. After being successful, he took pharmacology courses so that he could give drugs and complete IV therapy courses so that he could start IVs and give IV drugs.

Burke says the biggest change he’s seen in his career are computers. After the introduction of computers, it completely changed the way nurses took notes and the way doctors gave orders. Another big change he has seen is the work schedule. When he started he was an employee and was paid once a month. Then the schedule changed to 8 hour shifts, then to 12 hour shifts.

Her patients and colleagues are her favorite parts of the nurse. Burke says, “I got used to both and I hope I did my best. At least I made a big effort anyway. He certainly left his mark on his patients. Burke says that whenever he goes out into the community, someone walks up to him and reminds him that he took care of him. He also looked after several generations of families.

Burke shared a memory of a Christmas Eve when there was only he and RN Susan Holmes working on the postpartum unit.

He had come to work and the supervisor said they had a lot of help and he could go home.

When he got home, the supervisor called him back and told him he needed an additional nurse in the OB unit. It was ultimately Burke and Holmes who worked together after giving birth that Christmas Eve. Burke says working on Med / Surg is where he prefers to be.

A good day’s work for Burke is one where he can get his job done, avoid falling behind, and be able to get out on time. When not working, he spends time with his 28-year-old wife, Lucille. Burke says he can’t find anything better than watching football. He’s a fan of the Las Vegas Raiders. Burke is originally from Jewel Ridge and has lived in the Richlands area his entire life.

Burke’s advice to a new nurse: persevere. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but keep going.


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