Jo-Mary Bell Hunter (BSN’60)

How exciting that the UBC School of Nursing Alumni is celebrating 100 years.

My varied career began to unfold when I enrolled in the nursing program after I discovered that ether was no longer being used as an anesthetic. I had several horrific experiences with ether as a child so I had been hesitant to apply for nursing.

Our class of 1960 was welcomed by some of the most wonderful nursing instructors and that was the beginning of my story. How could you possibly not be excited to be a caring nurse when you were encouraged and guided by Margaret Duncan and Beth McCann, just to mention 2 of the faculty who helped to shape our various careers.

Days in the nursing labs at UBC were fun, informative but not always without their challenges. Especially when the water broke through what you thought was a carefully prepared kelly pad
which we created to shampoo our patient’s hair. Extra time had to be allowed for a complete change of linen.

We were definitely instructed well and eager for our practical months at VGH, Essondale, Pearson TB Hospital and community nursing.

Our class was such a fun group of young women who formed happy, long lasting friendships and have many stories to tell about our lives on the wards and our “residence” antics, but those would be best shared at another time.

After graduation my interesting nursing experiences began. I decided to do bedside nursing at St. Paul’s Hospital, after my teaching practicum there because I liked the sense of peace generated by the Sisters of Providence.

After a year of bedside nursing I was asked to join the St. Paul’s Faculty of Nursing as a Junior Medical Clinical instructor. This I did until we moved to Kamloops in 1963 where I decided to take a PHN position. I loved this varied experience. Recently during one of our many trips to Ireland I met a woman who lives on Vancouver Island and it turns out that she had lived in Kamloops when I was the school nurse at St. Anne’s Academy. She was a young student and I gave her a vision test. As a result of this test she received her first pair of glasses.

In 1966 I retired from nursing to have “babies”. I was a stay at home Mom for our 3 children until 1987 when I returned to nursing as a Long Term Care case manager. I loved this part time job for 11 years, 5 of which included a rural district up the North Thompson and Lillooet.

During my life in Kamloops I was involved with the Marion Hilliard Home (the home for unwed mothers – it no longer exists) and the Kamloops Hospice Association which began in 1983. At first it was community based and later a free standing privately owned house was built. It is in a peaceful setting overlooking parkland and our 2 rivers. I continue to volunteer there 4 hours every week to be present for patients and families.

I had a very exciting experience in 1983 when I first met Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (Swiss psychiatrist, a pioneer in the field of death and dying). I was with a group who brought her to Kamloops to give 2 public lectures on Death and Dying. Elisabeth also held 5 day workshops through out the world on Death, Dying and Transitions. These workshops allowed the participants to learn to deal with their unfinished business whether it was grief, abuse, or PTSD, to just mention a few, so that they would be able to live their lives more fully. I took the training workshops with Elisabeth and became one of her facilitators for some of the workshops that were held in the western states.

Many thanks to the UBC School of Nursing, VGH School of Nursing and community agencies that enabled and encouraged me to be the nurse that I became.

Jo-Mary (Bell) Hunter BSN class of 1960