Never Forget You Are a Nurse – The Story of Kathleen and Gordon Murphy

Looking back, Kathleen (Kathy) Murphy remembers joining a “Future Nurses Club” in high school, which led her to become a candy striper at the Castlegar Hospital, a small community hospital. But that’s not the only thing that inspired her to become a nurse. Born in Port Alberni and later raised in Vancouver and Castlegar, Kathy was the first born of four children so had some experience caring for others. Following graduation, Kathy explains, “nursing school provided a residence and an education” as well as many hours of nursing service.

After high school, Kathy attended one year of university at UBC before entering the VGH School of Nursing to obtain a Diploma in Nursing. During the year working at VGH she decided to continue her education by earning a Bachelor of Nursing degree at McGill University. Following graduation she taught in the St. Paul’s Hospital School of Nursing and then worked as a Nursing Coordinator in the hospital for the next seven and a half years. Kathy’s education path continued as she earned a Masters in Health Sciences from McMaster University followed by ten years working in Nursing Administration at the Richmond General Hospital.

While teaching at St. Paul’s Hospital School of Nursing and later working as a Nursing Coordinator, Kathy realized how an affordable avenue to earn a higher education turned into her realization of the significance and impact of being a nurse. “I was able to be a change agent in how nursing care was delivered”. While working with Audrey Murray, whom today she reflects back on as one of her greatest inspirations in nursing, Kathy was part of a number of innovative changes to improve patient care. This experience stays with Kathy today. Kathy’s advice for new nurses is “To strive to provide the best patient care possible and to identify issues that are preventing the delivery of care so action can be taken to improve it”. Having returned twice to university with limited funds, Kathy realized that so many more aspiring nurses and nursing students needed help.

She was impressed that RNFBC had one application for a number of available bursaries, so impressed that she became involved with the Foundation. For three years, Kathy was successful in chairing the Foundation’s Capital Campaign, which raised not only the number of trust funds but also trust fund levels in the 1990’s. Nearly twenty years later, Kathy is one of the Foundation’s most dedicated leadership volunteers and supporters. As a member of the University Women’s Club of Hycroft, Kathy is able to sponsor the RNFBC Annual Gala. Kathy became a Patron of RNFBC and was later awarded honorary membership. Kathy and Gordon met when they attended an evening UBC course called “How to Lead the Single Life”. They considered themselves course failures as they were married several years after meeting there.

Sadly, Kathy lost Gordon to Leukemia in 1995. She was inspired to establish the Gordon J. Murphy Memorial Bursary with RNFBC in memory of Gordon as “a generous and caring person who appreciated those who tried to better themselves and wished to give back to those who helped him”. Today Gordon’s memory lives on through the nursing students who are awarded

Gordon’s bursary each year. Kathy explains “Gordon wished to help nurses returning to school as he had been greatly helped by nurses when he was ill. As a patient, he was impressed with those nurses who worked with patients who would not recover from their condition”.

When asked if nurses make the world a better place, Kathy exclaims, “Yes!!” Kathy lives by her own advice to nurses, “Never forget you are a nurse, whether retired or not”. RNFBC is honoured to have Kathleen Murphy as an active member of the Foundation today. We look forward to many more years of her support and leadership