A Lifetime of Service: 90-Year-Old Nurse Still on Duty After 57 Years

Meet Hyacinthe Al-Hassan, a nurse whose remarkable journey spans an astonishing 57 years of selfless service to others.

At the age of 90, she continues to work casual shifts as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse at the University of Alberta Hospital – where she has worked for the last 45 years of her life.

“I’m not working as regularly as I did in the past. Now I do a weekend on and off, but I am still going.”

Hyacinthe’s path to nursing started in the United Kingdom and was paved by the inspiring women in her family who dedicated themselves to the profession.

Initially aspiring to become a doctor, Hyacinthe's journey took a turn when she realized her true calling was in nursing. Despite spending a year in medical school, her heart led her back to nursing, a decision she has never regretted.

“I enjoyed it. I love it to this day and I am happy that I became a nurse,” she says.

Asked about some of her most cherished memories of her decades-long career, she says it was being part of a team performing brain surgery – an experience that solidified her passion for health care and the impact she could make.

Reflecting on the changes she has witnessed in nursing over the years, Hyacinthe identifies the diminishing time nurses spend with their patients as one of the biggest challenges.

She’s also advocating for more practical hours to be included in the training programs and more support for nurses.

“I think they should be doing more practical. There should be more time spent on the unit during the training so they can actually see the practical part of the job and I don’t think nurses have got a lot of support from their colleagues and administration. The administration needs to take a little more interest in realizing what the nurses have to go through when they are on the unit and if the administration doesn’t get involved in that, there will always be a shortage of nurses. They need to let the nurses know they care. If they don’t address it nurses are not going to stay in the profession.”

Despite the obstacles, Hyacinthe's unwavering commitment to her profession remains steadfast. Her advice to young nurses echoes the wisdom of her years of experience: nursing must stem from a place of love and dedication.

“They must consider if this is the profession they want to dedicate themselves to because it is a very challenging job.”

As Nurses Week approaches Hyacinthe's message to her colleagues is one of encouragement and dedication.

“Continue to care for your patients the best way you know how. Always remember your patient concerns are your concerns and let them feel confident that they’ll be taken care of.”

Beyond her professional life, Hyacinthe prioritizes her physical and mental well-being through simple joys. Gardening, shopping, and staying active keep her spirits high and her mind sharp. Yet, it is the impact she has had on the lives of her patients and the gratitude from their families that she holds closest to her heart.

We salute nurse Hyacinthe Al-Hassan for 57 years of selfless service.