From its early days, leading nurses working in Ireland were involved in the Royal College of Nursing. This included some Belfast matrons. To commemorate the RCN’s Centenary, Margaret Graham of the RCN History of Nursing Society will explore the early days of the RCN, its founding members including those who established the RCN presence in Northern Ireland. This will be followed by an live interview with Lorna Finlay, on her personal history of nursing. Lorna has been an RCN member since 1950.
Doors open at 5pm, and the talk will start at 5.45. There will also be a show and tell of items from the RCN handling collections.
5.00pm Registration, refreshments and display
5.45pm Margaret Graham, RCN Northern Ireland History of Nursing Network Lead
6.15pm Janice Smyth, Director RCN Northern Ireland interviews Lorna Finlay
7.00pm Display & networking
Lorna Finlay joined the Royal College of Nursing in 1950 as a student member when she began nursing career. By 1954 she had completed both general and fever nursing certificates. Following a year’s staffing at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast she undertook a one-year midwifery course at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. Following this, Lorna returned to the Royal Victoria Hospital, taking a sister’s post in cardiology working with the world-renowned Professor JF Pantridge (who invented the portable defibrillator) for the next six years. She then transferred to a surgical ward sister’s post for four years. Lorna commissioned the first post-anaesthetic recovery ward in the RVH which also the first in Northern Ireland.
In 1968 Lorna decided to move from hospital to community nursing, completing a one year Health Visiting Certificate in 1969. Employed by the then Belfast Corporation, she gained experience in various city placements but mainly in West Belfast including the Moyard and Springmartin estates and the Upper Falls Road. This was during the height of civil disturbance in Belfast in the early 1970s.
Three years later she undertook a teaching diploma in London returning to a health visitor’s teaching post for the next six years at what was Jordanstown Polytechnic (now Ulster University).
The last 10 years of Lorna’s career were spent as a nurse tutor at the Royal College of Nursing in Belfast before her retirement in 1987.