Jacinta Harvey’s hands and feet have both put in countless miles.
The Berwick resident retired earlier this spring from a 40-year career working in the health-care system.
Harvey grew up in Mulgrave, Guysborough County, in the same house she was born in. As the seventh of nine children, and after growing up in a small town, Harvey says family and community have always been important to her.
“We had great parents as role models and were taught to do our best and care for others,” she says.
With these core values, Harvey set out to heal the world. Her original plan was to become a scientist and go to Mars, but when she was about 10 years old, she spent time in a hospital. Luckily for the Annapolis Valley, the nurses were so kind to her, she became interested in nursing.
After high school, Harvey headed to StFX to study nursing, working in several different places and roles, including as staff nurse, in-service co-ordinator, nursing supervisor, and acting director of nursing.
After 25 years in the field, Harvey returned to Dalhousie University, this time graduating as a nurse practitioner.
According to Harvey, both registered nurses and nurse practitioners have the nursing perspective as the basis to the education and do a lot of health education as part of their work. The nurse practitioner role, however, requires advanced education, allowing them to practice with autonomy. Where a RN can do things with a medical order or directive, the nurse practitioner does an assessment and decides on investigation and treatment independently.
“I am a great believer in team care,” says Harvey. “So, I always worked closely with doctors and other team members.”
Harvey loves people and loved caring for them and, as a nurse practitioner, she was able to do this every day. She loved it when people expressed or showed that they appreciated her care.
“I felt successful if they knew more about their health and felt more confidence in self-care,” she says. “I am proud of the work I did with postpartum depression, pap clinics and wound care, as well as daily office visits.”
LIFE AFTER NURSING
After 40 years, all good things must come to an end.
Earlier in June, Harvey decided to retire while she was still enjoying it and doing a good job, not wanting to get jaded. She also has many things she wants to do outside of work while still able to do so.
One of these things includes more walking, something she already has a great deal of experience with.
Two years ago, Harvey and her husband, Dan, walked more than 800 kilometres along the European Camino Way over 35 days.
“I heard about the Camino about 20 years ago and thought right away that I wanted to do it someday,” says Harvey. “I liked the combination of physical and spiritual exercise.”
When reflecting on this experience of a lifetime, Harvey says she was more strengthened than changed. She and her husband spent 24/7 together and still loved each other at the end, she kids. The couple was well-prepared and did not find it physically challenging walking the more than 20 kilometres a day. Walking just became a normal thing to do every day, she adds.
“There is something very special about walking the Camino that is hard to describe. We became stronger as people and as a couple. We met wonderful people and had a great adventure,” she says.
With the Camino under their belts, Harvey says they next plan to tackle some hikes in Ireland and Scotland, as well as doing more of the East Coast trail in Newfoundland.
When not walking or spending time at her 150-year-old family homestead in Guysborough County, Harvey plans to spend her retirement curling, practicing violin, starting a new quilt and knitting over the winter. If there is snow, she says she will ski or snowshoe, and of course, continue with her daily walk.
Although Harvey misses her colleagues and patients, she lives in Berwick, home of her latest practice, so she can still visit.
"I am ready for a change and like to be able to do things on my schedule,” she says. “I really feel that retirement is a good new phase in my life."