DC nurse reflects on 50 years in the profession and how it’s changed

washington Hospital Center
Colleagues help nurse Lucille Lynch (holding flowers) celebrate 50 years of service to MedStar Washington Hospital Center with a cake, flowers and balloons back in January. (Courtesy Washington Hospital Center)
Nurse Lucille Lynch recalls the most memorable case of her career

Wednesday is National Nurses Day, and a nurse who has spent more than 50 years caring for patients in the D.C. area recently reflected on how the profession has changed.

Lucille V. Lynch, 77, has no idea when she will retire. The Upper Marlboro, Maryland, resident celebrated 50 years of service at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in January.

She first joined MedStar as a nursing assistant. And after graduating from the University of the District of Columbia in the 1970s, she spent her entire career on Unit 1C of the medical-surgical floor that is dedicated to taking care of geriatric or elderly patients.

“I prefer working in the geriatric setting to take care of the elderly,” Lynch said. “I love what I’m doing, and I love coming to work.”

Courtesy Lucille Lynch
Nurse Lucille Lynch dressed in her uniform in the 1970s. (Courtesy Lucille Lynch)

Her colleagues call her Mama Lynch because they’re like family.

“I treat them as though they are my children, and so they show me all that respect,” Lynch said.

In her more than half-a-century of service, she has seen many changes in the nursing field. The biggest one concerns opportunities for women. “More females are holding more positions,” she said.

As for the tools of the trade, technology has been a game-changer in how nurses do their jobs. And in Lynch’s view, it’s the ability to fill out paperwork and charts electronically.

“When I first began nursing, we were doing everything manually. Now, it is computerized, so it makes my job easier.”

lucille lynch
Nurse Lucille Lynch said one of the biggest changes over the year has involved not having to complete a bunch of paperwork by hand. Lynch in 1996. (Courtesy Lucille Lynch)

For those starting out in the profession, Lynch has the following advice.

“You should have a passion for nursing and what you believe in. Recognize the importance of teamwork,” and “respect everyone regardless of who they are.”

As someone in a profession that is in the front line of the public health emergency, Lynch said COVID-19 summoned a global wake-up call bringing recognition to the work nurses, doctors and other health care providers perform together to save lives.

“With respect, especially to us as nurses, it seems as though it’s all over the world that we have gained more recognition and more respect. We are like heroes,” Lynch said. “One love, among all of us.”

After 50 years, Lynch said she has given some thought about retiring and letting the younger generation take over.

“But, then my fellow workers, the nurses here, the young ones said: ‘Cut back on time, but don’t leave us yet.’ And that makes me feel very happy that I’m welcome here.”

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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