Flashback: Nurses worked months without pay

Next month the  American Samoa Nursing Association (ASNA) will be celebrating its centennial.

One of the goals of President Mrs Tofiga Tufele is that the celebration will honor the contributions of nurses past and present and generate interest from young people who would carry the profession into the future,

A nurse who retired but has returned to work to help fill the shortage of nurses is Theresa Passi.

Teri as she is known  by  colleagues and friends says  issues that nurses are complaining about today like having to work long hours and little pay were unheard of in their nursing days .

She says they would often work for months without pay.

In those days the nurses conducted home visits.

Teri reminisces they did not have cars at their disposal…they would walk from village to village to see their patients.

And they never complained …it was part of their job.

The nurses were familiar to people in the village through these visits and as a result the nurses were well respected…they were wfigures of authority,,

Teri, says the only real challenge for her was having to deal with village matai with her inadequate skils in formal Samoan Language.

The veteran nurse  recalls having to ride the old  Tatoso tugboat boat with some of her colleagues in response to a family dispute in an Eastern side village where machetes were involved.

She said no task was too big for the nurses then…

Terri says nursing was such a passion that what nurses are complaining about today was no big deal back then.

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Terry says it was the nurses uniform that attracted her to the profession

Her  grandmother was a seamstress at the hospital and when she visited her grandmother at work she always admired the nurses uniforms.  She confides the uniform was the magnet that drew her interest in Nursing,,

After completing high school, she did not plan like many of her classmates to move off-island to further their education.

She was determined to become a nurse and joined the nursing school that was around at that time.

She worked at the hospital for five years then the Director of Nursing Faauga Achiga diected many of them to the Department of Public Health  which was focused on the preventative side of medicine.

Back then nurses were able to deliver babies  in the villages, treat injuries and perform basic medicine.

Terri says the nurses in her time were resourceful and creative.  They worked with what they had and nursing was a calling where they went beyond their job descriptions.

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The retired nurse wants to encourage young people to consider nursing and urges the hospital management to come up with ways to attract young people to nursing as the territory is facing a nursing shortage.

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