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America’s oldest nurse retires aged 96

America’s oldest nurse has decided that it’s time to hang up her uniform after more than 70 years. Florence Rigney, from Washington, had most recently been working for Tacoma General Hospital, but had worked across the USA during her career.

Florence, nicknamed ‘SeeSee’ was reportedly extremely energetic, even into her 100th decade. According to her Fitbit she managed to rack up an impressive three miles of walking during her shifts! She worked as an operating room nurse and was responsible for getting patients ready for surgery. Florence began her career as a student nurse at the Tacoma General School of Nursing- a time in which penicillin had only just been invented!

Long Career

America's oldest nurse retires aged 96
Florence’s final day at work. Credit:

Florence served as a nurse almost consistently throughout her 70 year career, only taking small breaks when she had her two children. According to Florence she did try to retire once before- when she was 65- however, this retirement was short-lived. Six months after handing in her retirement papers, Florence was back to full time work, citing that her work kept her sharp and active. Speaking about keeping active, she said: “I don’t like to sit around – I’ve always got to have something to do. That’s my nature.”

When Florence first graduated Nursing College in 1946 life was very different. One of the biggest differences was the duration of patients stays. When Florence first started practicing a typical hospital stay would be at least ten days. Now, she says, patients are out within one to two days, thanks to modern medicine.

The SeeSee Rigney Nursing Endowed Scholarship Fund has now been established in Florence’s name.

Upon leaving her role, Florence offered some parting advice:

“Don’t ever think that you know it all,” she said. “I kind of did that when I was in the operating room and you have to always be open. You never stop learning.”

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