12 April 2018: She worked for 43 years as a nurse and loved every moment of it, but it wasn’t always Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Croome’s preferred career.
“The opportunity to move out of home and do something caring was what attracted me to study nursing,” Dr Croome said, whose decorated career includes being the ACT’s longest serving Chief Nurse.
“It was only a matter of moments before I started to really understand and appreciate how wonderful the profession really is.
“Nursing gives you the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives that I never thought was possible. I originally wanted to be a teacher, so changing lives in another way.”
On Thursday, her contribution to nursing will be acknowledged with an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra. Dr Croome is receiving the award in recognition of her outstanding role as a community leader and dedicated supporter of health services, particularly in the ACT.
Now retired, she said she “couldn’t be prouder”, even giving up tickets to the semi-finals of beach volleyball at the Commonwealth Games to attend the ceremony.
“I have a close connection and many fond memories of the University of Canberra. It is a tremendous honour to receive this award,” she said.
During her tenure as ACT Chief Nurse (2009-2017), Dr Croome campaigned tirelessly to improve nursing and midwifery care standards across the ACT.
She was the driving force behind numerous clinical, education and research partnerships including a new clinical school for nursing, midwifery and allied health at Canberra Hospital, run in conjunction with staff from the University’s Faculty of Health.
She also helped develop Australia’s first nurse-led walk-in centre at the Canberra Hospital.
“The good thing about the ACT is it is small enough to make a difference and it has been a privilege to play a part in helping change the role of nursing in Canberra,” she said.
“The creation of walk-in centres, a homebirth trial and the new positions of nurse practitioners are all things I am immensely proud of.”
Dr Croome’s career began in 1973 at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney where she trained in general and intensive care nursing. She worked at Westmead, Royal Price Alfred and Concord Hospitals before returning to Royal North Shore to manage the Intensive Care Units and the Division of Medicine.
She was also Director of Nursing at Gosford Hospital and the Area Director of Nursing at Northern Sydney Central Coast Health.
Dr Croome hopes her occasional address will inspire and encourage the University’s newest graduates to approach their careers with enthusiasm and respect for others.
“I want to impress upon them that they have chosen a wonderful career in health that can take them anywhere and everywhere that they wish to go. I want them to think, ‘If she can do it, so can I’.”
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