A NURSE has recounted her experience being one of the first nurses to move into a specialist role as she retires after nearly four decades caring for patients.

Carol Bowler is leaving North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust after 37 years in nursing.

Carol, who is a senior clinical practitioner in orthopaedics, was one of the first nurses to become a nurse practitioner.

Practitioners took on responsibility for many of the roles traditionally performed by doctors, including assessing and examining patients, making a diagnosis, making referrals and admitting patients into hospital.

Carol worked in a range of roles in orthopaedics and became a specialist in caring for patients who had experienced a fall.

Orthopaedic consultant Chris Tulloch, the trust’s deputy medical director, said: “You were part of the transformation of nursing care and were one of the driving forces behind it.

“You have been a vital member of the orthopaedic team for so many years now. Always striving to improve the care we provide and do the right thing for our patients.

“Thank you for everything you have done for the trust and for patients.”

Carol, who has also previously worked at health trusts in Lincoln and Durham, has also recently been involved in new pet therapy sessions.

These have involved bringing her Shetland Sheepdog, Felicity, into hospital as part of an initiative to help reduce anxiety and improve well-being in patients.

Carol said: “Things have changed so much over the course of my career.

“When I think back to what nurses used to do when I first trained and what we do now, I am gobsmacked at how far we have come.

“I have always had fantastic support from the trust to develop my skills and knowledge and supporting me to make changes to improve patient care.

“Thank you to everyone for all of their love and support over my time here.”