Inspiring teacher, compassionate nurse

Patricia Shirley Ellercamp

Many Newcastle and Hunter nurses will remember Pat Ellercamp as an inspiring and dynamic teacher whose talents set many careers along the path to success.

Pat died on Easter Saturday, 11 April, after a long and debilitating illness.

Pat Ellercamp was a trailblazer. She commenced nursing as a 17-year-old trainee at the Royal Newcastle Hospital in 1947. She was required to resign, however, when she got married two years later.

In 1960, when she needed to return to the workforce because her husband John had suffered a disabling accident, she applied to commence her general training – again at the Royal Newcastle Hospital.

Pat became the first mature-aged, married student nurse at RNH to undertake (and this time complete) her general training. Pat, by this time, had three young children but, nevertheless, was still required to ‘live in’ at the Nurse’s Home, in compliance with hospital rules. She finally graduated in 1965.

She went on to complete her midwifery qualification, before joining the staff of the operating theatres at the ‘Royal’, where she became an expert and accomplished scrub nurse.

In 1968, when the Belmont District Hospital opened, she commissioned the first ED and ran the Department with efficiency, wit, compassion and charm, endearing herself to staff and patients alike.

Pat joined the School of Nursing at the Royal, shortly before the move towards tertiary education for nurses, and became first Deputy Head of School and then Head of School – Midwifery. Her dedication to her students was absolute, and she spent many hours preparing stimulating lectures, as well as teaching, co-ordinating guest speakers, marking assignments and exam papers.

Patty was an inspiring teacher, and derived great pleasure from engaging and motivating her students.

Even in retirement, Pat loved a project and became, among other things, a member of the Hunter Health Consumers’ Advisory Committee.

Then she took on the task of training candidates as accredited Personal Carers, and also became a driving force within Newcastle University of the 3rd Age (U3A), where she set up an introduction to computers program, sourcing donated computer terminals, and even premises, from corporate sponsors.

Pat was a devoted mother and grandmother, whose pride in family achievements gave her great pleasure.

Pat’s energy, determination, intellect and sense of humour will be sadly missed by all who knew her.

By Chris Ellercamp, CNE, Westmead Children’s Hospital