MarleneCongratulations to SEIU Healthcare member Marlene Long, who was the first RPN to be awarded the 2020 Orillia Soldier’s Memorial Hospital Nurse Alumnae Nightingale Award.

Marlene, who started her nursing journey in 1981 when her mother recommended the profession, has been an RPN for 36 years. Her career has not always been easy, but what keeps her going is the ongoing education and experience she gets each and every day, which she often finds herself sharing with young doctors entering the field.

Marlene was shocked and humbled when she received the award after being nominated by her friend and colleague, Madeline Sullivan.

“Even in 2020, RPNs are still not identified by many as real nurses. This award meant a lot to me because it showed not only myself, but also my colleagues, that RPNs are finally starting to be recognized. I feel like this can empower all RPNs and make them more eligible for future nursing awards. It is good to know that I have my name on a plaque beside RPN.”

For the first six years of Marlene’s career, she worked in long-term care. Afterwards, she took a position on the surgical floor at Orillia Soldier’s Memorial Hospital. An opportunity then became available in the Outpatient Clinic on the emergency floor, but she believed they were looking for a male nurse for the position. However, with the support of her colleagues and union, she was able to secure the job, in part to the union being able to highlight Marlene’s seniority. She was sent to Ottawa Civic Hospital for orthopedics training, and today, she is told that she has mastered orthopedic skills and is a great mentor for those entering the profession.

“Now that I am getting closer to my retirement, I realize just how much I love my job, but I really wish I had the opportunity to expand my role and join orthopedics from the beginning. As an RPN and Cast Technician, we do everything in the Orthopedic Clinic.”

Marlene also shared how mentorship was a big component in the development of her career. She had a strong support system that encouraged her growth and offered her guidance as she was making big transitions. She explains how mentorship comes from the kindness of leadership and the willingness to share experiences. If it were not for the kindness and guidance of her friend Madeline, she would not have gone through the steps she needed to take to get into the emergency department.

SEIU Healthcare’s Nursing Division is honoured to represent RPNs who are showing the health system that they need to be recognized as real nurses. We are incredibly proud of Marlene’s achievements and all our nurses working tirelessly on the frontlines. Marlene describes her thoughts regarding COVID-19.

“Thankfully, Orillia has not had many cases, but the hospital has done an outstanding job at renovating to ensure we were ready for mass numbers coming in. For those who must come into the hospital, I believe the precautious we have taken have eased some of their fear. As a nurse who started off in nursing homes, I feel terrible for long-term care home during this crisis; I don’t know how they have gotten away with these conditions and it’s disappointing it has taken something like this for the government to recognize all the help they need.”