Carole Plyler Bundy graduated with her BSN in 1977! After more than 40 years of an
accomplished nursing career, Carole decided to retire this past October. We spoke
to Carole about her nursing journey and the many adventures she has had in healthcare.
It has been a terrific first week of retirement. I have been immersed in reading a wonderful thick book of adventure. I have visited with my sweet sister who was widowed during the Covid shutdown this spring. It feels so good to have time to love on her. I am just now starting to formulate plans for how to spend my retirement. I think the stress of the past year played a huge part in my final decision.
I am truly a member of the sandwich generation. My broad plans include gardening, reading and spending more time with my children and grandchildren. I will also be needed to help care for my 94 year old mother. She is fading, and I look forward to some sweet times with her. My in-laws are also at a point where they will need some assistance with healthcare issues. So, I guess the nursing doesn't end when you walk away from the regular job. It's in my veins and I look forward to continuing to use my skills at home.
My nursing career started as a teenage volunteer (a version of a candy striper) at my local hospital (now Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster). After high school, I worked as a nursing aide there during summers and holidays while attending UofSC.
One night I got to watch a delivery. It was both traumatic and entrancing as a young teen! Little did I know then that my career path would lead to many years as a Labor and Delivery nurse.
I started fresh out of school in May of 1977 in L&D at Roper Hospital in Charleston.
My saving grace was two seasoned nurses who started shortly after my arrival. They
were my mentors and friends. There were no residency or internship programs back then.
You knew a little about a lot but not a lot about any one thing. It was truly on the
job training. After one and a half years, I moved to Columbia, SC and worked in L&D
at then Richland Memorial Hospital. It was challenging and exhilarating. I learned
so much from the residents and doctors there.
There was a strong camaraderie where we were all learning and teaching each other with challenging patients from the state's Midlands region. One stand out incident from this time was a chance to teach childbirth classes to the patients. The hospital wanted to start classes as this was the new thing to do. Several other nurses and I banded together and formulated a curriculum that we taught weekly for several years. Little did I know how that would impact my career.
In 1984 I married and moved to a tiny remote town in the mountains of NC. I secured a position as a clinical instructor in the nursing program at Wilkes Community College because I had 'teaching' experience. After my husband was transferred two years later, I returned to L&D in Shelby, NC. A stint as a stay at home mother was supplemented with teaching childbirth classes again. When we returned to Columbia in 1990, I worked for Midlands OB Home Care, monitoring and assessing mothers experiencing preterm labor. I went back to L&D at Richland Memorial in 1992 (with a short stint as the OB Educator at the Women's Clinic there).
In 2007 I joined Perinatal Systems as an OB Outreach Educator. This was a cooperative alliance between the hospital and DHEC. This was probably my most challenging and fun job. I would go out to the outlying hospitals in the region and teach the nurses OB skills and updates. This also entailed teaching a 3 hour class every month for CEU credits. I also obtained my Inpatient OB certification during this time. Life got in the way, and I made a switch back to the hospital, this time in a whole new arena as a Pre-Op Nurse for surgery. It had a steep learning curve but became one of my other favorite places to use my skills. It combined assessment, teaching and a lot of compassion for patients sometimes experiencing challenging situations. So that is it in a rather large nutshell.
Labor and Delivery was and always will be my one true love. But I've also enjoyed the teaching aspect of my career. I found that I had a real knack for explaining things in a simple way that was easy to understand.
There have been so many changes in the years since I graduated. Nurses today need to have sharper assessment skills to navigate the needs of their sicker patients. We have many more responsibilities for using those skills and communicating the patient's needs to the physicians. We must always be attentive to the patient behind the diagnosis and sensitive to their needs by being their advocate. The exciting trend that I see is more nurses picking up the torch and venturing into higher levels of skill seeking to be a Nurse Practitioner or CRNA. What a wonderful opportunity to expand nursing knowledge and serve more needs in more venues not open to us earlier.