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As St. Joseph’s School of Nursing Celebrates 100 years, please meet Linda Bitterman, Alumnae Executive – Her Nursing Journey and Legacy..

Last winter our St. Joseph’s Alumnae executive were excited, busily planning our 100th year anniversary in 2020 when COVID-19 hit. This got me thinking back to my early nursing days and realized how much a bursary can help a student nurse and how very important the established bursaries like St. Joseph’s are. In talking with RNFBC on how to promote our bursary, we thought what better way than celebrating St. Joseph’s SON 100th anniversary with a story about my personal nursing journey and legacy.

Many students know that nursing is going to be their chosen career, but that wasn’t me! As a teen, I was obsessed with my sports, ie. basketball and skating in the winter, and softball all summer! So, my dream was to be a P. E. Teacher. That all changed in a moment’s time at age 16 when I was a passenger in a head-on 3 car collision. There were 15 young people involved, with one dead and all but one injured, and most with fractures. This was in the days before seat belts so I was sent flying through the front windshield. The boy I was with, who was our driver, pulled me out of the car then laid down and died. He had severed his aorta. I had multiple injuries, internal bleeding, head injury, and over 130 sutures to my face and neck (apparently the nurses counted them. I wouldn’t know as I was still unconscious!). I’m telling you all this because, as a result of my time in the hospital, and all I saw and heard changed the course of my life! I got to really like most of my nurses, but there was one that was very impatient with me. I remember her forcing red Jello on me, and telling me if I didn’t eat it I’d have to have the IV back in! It took a lot of years before I could eat red Jello on my own! I also remember the staff talking about me but I couldn’t open my eyes or say anything! This was something I was very aware of when I was nursing and always remember the sensitivity of the patient’s feelings. Because of my injuries I was out of high school for 2 years before I was accepted at St. Joseph’s here in Victoria. I would always get the same thing told to me – “your marks are good, but we can’t take a chance on you, health-wise.” Thank God for the wonderful nuns who were willing to give me a chance! So I graduated in 1964, but did have to make up about 5 months because of having pneumonia in my last year, but I did make it!

My 1964 Graduating Class

>55 years later….that’s me in the centre in a striped sweater!

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