A lifetime of care

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Not even retirement could keep her away — Vivian Breen has certainly earned the lifetime achievement award for her 52 years as a licensed practical nurse in Pictou County and across Nova Scotia.

Breen so enjoyed her work as an LPN that, just two months after retiring from Shiretown Nursing Home in Pictou, she returned to the position at Ivey’s Terrace in Trenton to continue her career and continue providing the best care to her clients at the facility.

“One of my co-workers told me she was going to nominate me,” said Breen about the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia Lifetime Achievement Award. “I thought it was a joke.”

It was when Breen received an email extending congratulations from the college that she learned that not only had she actually been nominated, but she was receiving the honour as well.

“I was very excited,” she said. “I thought it was quite an honour.”

She may be humble about her job but Breen has had an impact farther than just those that she directly cares for. In her time as an LPN, she has also served on the Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union (NSNU) from 1983 to 2002 as the Northern Region representative for RNs and LPNs. This was at a time when acute LPNs and long-term care LPNs earned different salaries despite the same education. She is currently local chapter president for the union and a panel member for the College’s Complaints and Professional Conduct Committee.

She also made LPN history in Pictou County as the first licensed staff member to work at Valley View Villa in Stellarton.

“I think it gets in your blood,” she said, adding that when she began her career she had no idea that more than 50 years later she would still be in the profession. After retiring in 2005 to look after her mother who was ill, Breen returned to the job just two months later.

“I missed it extremely, the contact with the workers and the residents and stuff, so I decided to go back to work,” she said. Breen added that since she graduated from Camp Hill Hospital in 1963, a lot has changed in the profession and even from year to year it is constantly evolving. LPNs do much more now than ever before, something Breen pointed out is evident in the schooling needed now, which is a two-year course, compared to the one year course she once took.

“If they have the care and compassion for it, I would most definitely recommend it,” Breen said about others who might be looking to the career.

Vivian Breen was thrilled to accept her Lifetime Achievement Award from the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia recently, after spending 52 years in the career.(College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia photo)