Juliet Neilson and Alison Dyett first met in 1989 at the School of Nursing at Winchester and Basingstoke and lived together for three years during their studies.
“After a late shift we would talk through our experiences of the shifts”
Reconnecting following Ms Dyett’s recent move to Somerset, Ms Neilson – deputy director of nursing, quality and safety at Weston – suggested she applied for the role of team leader in the pre-op assessment unit based at Weston General Hospital.
The pair reflected on how times had changed in the 30 years they have been nurses including the uniforms, which used to include capes and white hats.
Patient care practices had also moved on, they noted.
“It is amazing to think that operations which would have meant a three-day hospital stay are now day cases; there has been so much progress,” said Ms Dyett.
Unlike today’s usual 200 student nursing cohort there were only 13 students in their nursing set who trained together, which gave their class a “family” feel.
Ms Neilson told of the importance of her friendship with Ms Dyett throughout their training and beyond.
She said: “After a late shift we would talk through our experiences of the shifts, the highs and lows, and then watch the new series of Casualty on the television to see if the drama represented the reality…it did not!”
While they both have many stories to tell of their time in training, the memory that they said they both felt most proud of was the day they received their buckles and became fully qualified nurses.
After qualifying, each nurse took her own unique path but they never lost touch.
“It is amazing to think that operations which would have meant a three-day hospital stay are now day cases”
Ms Neilson worked on a medical ward and then moved into cardiothoracic at Southampton General Hospital, caring for patients with conditions affecting the heart and lungs.
She went on to become the head of patient experience and then after 22 years, she moved to the role of head of nursing for surgery at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.
Meanwhile, Ms Dyett spent three years travelling and doing voluntary work, including volunteering in Calcutta where she recalled receiving a Christmas present from Ms Neilson.
She then returned to Winchester and worked as a nurse in general surgery before moving to London where she spent 20 years working on surgical wards.
In 2010, she became the pre-op manager at Lewisham Hospital.
After 30 years in the profession, the two women said they truly believed that nursing was a vocation.
alison and juliet old