As a nurse and midwife, Liz Traeger has always “cared".
Although this is a requirement for the job, she has brought another dimension to it in her 43-year career at hospitals in the Mid North and Adelaide.
Looking back on her days on the ward, the retiring Crystal Brook hospital executive officer and director of nursing and midwifery said: “You look after those beautiful young babies, but also these beautiful older people as well. That is amazing.
“Women never forget their midwives. The babies I helped to come into the world now have babies of their own and that is beautiful to see.”
As a midwife, she helped a couple of hundred babies into the arms of their exhausted mothers.
Ms Traeger was born in Tailem Bend where her parents had a farm.
She started as a student nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide in 1976.
“It was a career path that was open at the time. The path that women took was either teaching or nursing,” she said. “I cannot say it has always been my burning ambition, but that is what it has become.”
She rose rapidly at the Queen Elizabeth to become nursing supervisor, then changed direction to work at the IMVS, collecting blood specimens in clients’ homes, before becoming an occupational health nurse at Simpson Ltd.
“In those days, it was important to have midwifery qualifications if you wanted to work in the country so I went back to the Queen Elizabeth to qualify as a midwife in 1987,” she said.
She and her partner Dennis Dale, a freelance graphic artist, moved to Yacka where they still live. “We have 20 acres and I am going to enjoy it for a little while,” she said.
Ms Traeger has also worked at Port Pirie and Laura and her duties at retirement included responsibility for the Port Broughton hospital.
She said her job had been “rewarding and amazing”. “You cannot be a nurse if you don’t care,” she said.
“Country nurses go ‘over and above’. They care not only care about their patients, but their whole community. The hospital is their hospital as well.”
She praised the team midwifery members at Port Pirie and Crystal Brook in the past 12 years saying the scheme was hoped to be rolled out around the whole region.
Ms Traeger understands the skills involved, having won the inaugural midwifery excellence award. Turning to her role as an executive, she said one of the biggest challenges was overcoming a tendency for nurses to remain in Adelaide instead of moving to the country. Ms Traeger has bridged the gap from city to country while maintaining the best traditions of nursing and care, leaving big shoes to fill.