July 10, 2023

Nurse Retires After 60 Years of Service

Nurse Retires After 60 Years of Service

Image: Alice Larson at her retirement party

After nearly 60 years as a nurse, Employee Health Nurse Alice Larson, of Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC) officially retired. While her story might not be that different from others, her commitment to the profession is a testament to her love for helping others and a stark reminder of the ongoing nursing shortage. 

Nurses, like Larson,  from the Baby Boomer generation are retiring at a rapidly increasing rate, especially in a post-COVID pandemic healthcare world. So, while we celebrate the longevity of these nurses - we must also wonder - who will continue to fill these voids?

Life Goals

Larson knew from an early age, 7 to be exact, that she was destined to work in the medical field. "My goal in life was to be a candy striper and have one of those red and white pinafores," she said. "I just thought that was the neatest thing! But I wasn't old enough. You had to be 16 or in the 11th grade, and my birthday was in September, so I had to wait. When I was officially 16, the hospital wasn't having a candy striper class, so I took a job as a nurse's aide."

>> Click to See the Ultimate List of Master’s Degrees in Nursing

After getting her feet wet as a nurse’s aide at JRMC, she decided to continue her education by enrolling at St. Vincent Hospital’s nursing program in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

After graduation, Larson returned to JRMC, worked in the medical/surgical unit, and then moved to the ICU. Larson remembers her early days fondly especially when thinking about how far things have come both at the bedside and in healthcare. 

"Doctors smoked, nurses smoked, they smoked going down the halls, they would stand in the doorway of a patient room and hold their cigarette out the door while they were talking," Lawson said. "Didn't matter what floor it was or where they were. We would be doing change of shift reports and the smokers would stand in the soiled utility room and smoke with their cigarettes out the window so it wouldn't bother anybody."

Switching Gears

For over 10 years, Larson found a home in the Emergency Department before ending her career as an Employee Health Nurse. At the time, it wasn’t considered a full-time role, so she continued working in the ED to make up the hours. 

"I've worked with just about every employee in this hospital," she said. "I know most of them and their families, and have worked with three or four generations in some cases. I have quite a few who call me at home for advice. You keep in touch over the years and end up caring for them in more ways than just as a healthcare provider."

Image: Alice Larson and colleagues 

Word of Wisdom

Larson’s impact at JRMC goes beyond helping countless patients and employees. At a time when nurses are leaving the bedside for remote health positions or leaving nursing altogether, Larson shared some pearls of wisdom for future generations of nurses which can serve as a poignant reminder.

"The grass isn't always greener. While medicine has changed so much, it can't be that different 45 minutes from here. You may leave for that golden opportunity, but chances are we have that same opportunity here," she said.

Larson is ready for retirement and slowing down. And this time, she plans on staying retired. A few years ago, she did retire but after three weeks called JRMC wanting her position back. 

Now, she plans on spending her time tending to her garden and spending time with her husband, two sons, and three granddaughters. 

Go to the top of page