Beverly Pavelich

50 years of nursing service and devotion

It’s been a lifelong journey of nursing service that has surpassed a half-century. And the trek isn’t over yet for Beverly Pavelich whose professional home has been Royal University Hospital for all but a couple of those years.

Beverly’s first day at RUH was June 1, 1973. She entered the province’s largest hospital with less than a year’s experience gained at a facility in a smaller urban centre in the province. While on a tour of the observation unit and after seeing the chief resident “barking orders” while inserting a chest tube into a trauma patient, she began to feel nervous, scared and even nauseous wondering what might happen.

“Fortunately, I was able to control my anxiety. I survived that day and the rest is history.”

Her history includes short stints in numerous RUH departments including the intensive and critical care units, the emergency department and the children’s cancer outpatient clinic. She also served as RUH’s nurses’ union president and worked for a year in Switzerland and England early in her career.

But Beverly’s passion resides in the operating rooms where she’s participated in an estimated 12,000 surgeries, including many open heart cases, over a combined period of 30 years.

“I am so fortunate because to this day I absolutely still love doing what I do in the operating room, supporting the rest of the medical team and providing patients with the best care that I can provide them,” says Beverly. “If you told me six years ago when I decided to take on only casual shifts that I was going to be 71 and still working in the operating room, I’d have been so surprised!”

Beverly has witnessed a lot of change in the nursing profession over the years. Nurses have more education and training, they are caring for patients with more complex needs, are interacting with more sophisticated equipment and technology in addressing those needs, and are paid much more. And gone are the days of white dresses with caps and stockings, now replaced with “scrubs” that provide more protection, comfort and range of movement for the wearer.

But most importantly, according to Beverly, is the growth of respect for and between each member of care teams throughout RUH. The teams are much more cohesive.

“What keeps me coming back each day is the respect and comradery within the whole team that wasn’t always there when I first started. Today, everyone is much more respectful and that has a huge impact on team morale and patient care.”

Another factor enhancing the work environment and patient care at RUH over the years has been the support of the Royal University Hospital Foundation and its donors, says Beverly, who has been a supporter of the Foundation since 2003.

“At the end of the day, regardless of the size of one’s donation, it all helps make the hospital a better place to work and provide care and comfort to our patients, their families and the staff.”

Beverly grew up on a family farm near Lanigan. As a teenager, she was a candy striper volunteering at the local hospital. She won a local scholarship that covered her two years’ tuition at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences in Saskatoon (today known as Saskatchewan Polytechnic) and began her nursing education in September 1970.

Three months before her nursing school graduation, Beverly decided to quit training; a decision she quickly revoked crediting her mother for it.

“My mother doesn’t know this but I had had a horrible day. I just said, ‘I am not doing this anymore’. I walked off the unit and while looking in the mirror and combing my hair with tears in my eyes I thought ‘Your mother isn’t going to like this one bit if she finds out.’ I gathered myself and went back the next day and finished my schooling.”

Besides spending time in the operating room, Beverly enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience as a preceptor, guiding and supporting those new to the nursing profession. Her main advice: “You have to be a giver dedicated to giving to your team and your patients even when you are in a 16-hour surgery, exhausted and wondering ‘How am I even going to drive home after this is over.’ Everyone should be treated like family.”

Finally, when asked when she might retire, Beverly replies, “I just don’t know. I’ve told my friends here that when you see that I am not pulling my weight to let me know and then it will be time to decide.”

And with a tiny smile and a sense of humour that she’s found so important to have during her career, Beverly adds, “My colleagues still say I have an amazing amount of energy probably the result of good genetics from my 97-year-old mom who has been such a great role model.”

Read more inspiring stories in our Fall Milestones or make your donation now.