by Vickie Jenkins
Jane Pickelsimer, RN is a pleasant individual with years of experience in caring for others. Working at Mercy hospital for 26 years she retired in 2006. Her last job was in Surgical services at Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City. Pickelsimer was one of the first nurses in Oklahoma to be certified in Operating Room Nursing (CNOR) and as a Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRNFA). While her husband was in the Navy, she traveled to several different states, working in Med-surgical, critical care, Neurology and home health. She was always active in professional organizations. With several of her colleagues she worked to establish Oklahoma’s State Council of Perioperative Nurses (AORN) and later served as president of that organization.
Pickelsimer graduated from St. Anthony’s Hospital School of Nursing in Oklahoma City in 1970. St. Anthony’s was a hospital school of Nursing and she has a diploma in Nursing. This is where she attended classes, worked, ate and lived for 3 years (year round). St. Anthony’s school of nursing was established in 1908 and was the first accredited nursing school in Oklahoma, becoming the Kramer School of Nursing Oklahoma City University in the mid 1980’s. “At that time, I was at school, everyone advised me to go to St. Anthony’s if I wanted to be a good nurse,” she said.
“How many places have you worked as a nurse?” I ask. “I began working as a student nurse at the hospital in 1967 at the age of 17. After graduation, I worked for Ardmore Memorial Hospital at age 20. They paid for my tuition, room and board and I was to work for them for 1 year. Then, I got married and moved away. I worked in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma while my husband was in the Navy. We stayed in Oklahoma and one of my classmates invited me to join her at Mercy,” she replied. “I stayed at Mercy until I retired,” she added.
Asking Pickelsimer what she thinks makes a good nurse, she said, “I think a good nurse is one that has love and respect for people and the human body. They need to be attentive to detail and a little OCD! Good surgical nurses are usually really OCD and they need to have good assessment and management skills.” “How would you describe yourself in 3 words?” I ask. “Loving, caring and attentive,” she says with a smile. Asking Pickelsimer what her best quality is as a nurse, she replies, “The ability to make quick assessments and react appropriately.”
“If you were giving advice to someone going int o the medical field, what would you tell them?” I ask. “They can expect long hours, hard physical work, stressful situations and great fulfillment. Also don’t neglect a quality education, it is the foundation of your career.” Asking Pickelsimer if anyone had influenced her to become a nurse or if she had a mentor, she replies, “I had two aunts that were nurses and I greatly admired them. There were several surgeons that mentored me to develop my surgical skills and become a First Assistant.”
“What was your favorite thing about being a nurse?” I ask. “I think the human body is a fascinating organism. I loved doing surgery and have always been in awe of the beauty and perfection of God’s creation.” “If you could have changed anything in the medical field, what would it have been?” “I would have taken away the need to spend more time documenting than hands on caring for the patient.”
Now that Pickelsimer has retired, she has more time to spend on her hobbies. She does volunteer work at Hope Pregnancy Center where she does pregnancy tests and parenting classes for young moms. She also volunteers at Hope 4 Generations clinic once a month. She teaches young single ladies at her church and reads with a child at Whiz Kids. She has 4 grandsons and a granddaughter on the way. Their children live in North Carolina and Arizona so she loves to travel to visit them. “My husband and I love to travel with friends,” she adds. She also makes furniture and does woodworking.
Pickelsimer’s life as a nurse was interesting and she wouldn’t have changed it for anything. One last question for her. I ask, “Do you miss working at the hospital?” With a big smile on her face, she replies, “Absolutely not. I loved it at the time but now I can spend more time with my husband, children and grandchildren. Love it.”