Pat at the computer in her home
The career of Pat Lyon, pictured in her home office, has spanned acute care, rehab, research and teaching. (Photo: Courtesy Pat Lyon)

As 2018 comes to a close, so does Patricia (Pat) Lyon's impressive 60-year nursing career.

Having graduated from St. Joseph's School of Nursing in 1958, Pat's career has spanned acute care, rehab, research and teaching.

"2018 marks the 60th anniversary of my graduation from nursing school," Pat says with a smile.

"And, like Robert Redford, who is retiring after 60 years in acting, I feel my time has come." 

Shortly after graduation, Pat, who turns 82 on Wednesday, began working at St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto in what was then called the Female Surgery Unit. She was later assigned to the intensive care unit –Toronto's first.

Pat joined the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (now Toronto Rehab (TR) – University Centre) in 1980 as the manager of the Stroke Unit. Pat held various roles at Queen Elizabeth while completing her baccalaureate degree at what is now Ryerson University and eventually completing her masters at the University of Toronto (U of T).

"Embarking on a university education at age 50 was an interesting challenge," she says. "I had to learn how to do library research and write essays – which I hadn't done since high school."

Pat’s graduation photo
Pat’s 1958 graduation photo. (Photo: Courtesy Pat Lyon)

Looking back at that experience, Pat thinks it was one of the best things she did for herself, allowing her to realize her long-term dream of becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist, a role she held until 1999.

In 1999, Pat left Toronto Rehab for her "first retirement," which meant moving away from bedside care and into the Department of New Knowledge and Innovation (now Collaborative Academic Practice) at UHN as a research consultant.

Although she has been part of a large number of different research projects, Pat says her time learning and teaching about patient-centred care was the most memorable. A philosophy she first learned in her master's program, it has been something that has continued to guide her practice.

"It was very rewarding to teach the theory to other healthcare professionals as it has the potential to positively impact patient care," she says.

Patricia Lyon Nursing Fellowship

In February 2017, Pat completed her last research assignment and earlier this month, she gave up her Ontario College of Nurses registration.

"It was an emotional day for me," she says.

Although Pat will not be in the halls of UHN anymore, her legacy will live on through the Patricia Lyon Nursing Fellowship. The award is granted annually to a nurse registered either in a master's degree or doctoral program of the Graduate Department of Nursing Science at U of T whose studies are consistent with the goals of TR and will help further its strategic direction.

Now officially in retirement mode, Pat is surprised to find how easy it is to fill her time. Along with a busy family life, knitting, travel, running and competitive sailing, she now assists with a school breakfast club, which feeds up to 60 kids every morning and has time to once again enjoy hobbies.

 "I am going back to doing activities from my youth," Pat says. "I am painting again and exploring watercolours.

"As well, I have more time to see family and friends for lunch, and visit the Art Gallery of Ontario as often as I like."​

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