Up-Close … with long serving nurse award recipient Marie-Antoinette Salomon-‘My greatest joy is the kindness and gratitude shown to me by people I nursed back to health’



Mrs Salomon

Marie-Antoinette Salomon believes she possesses all those qualities and this is why after 39 years she is still in her chosen profession.
Looking back Mrs Salomon said she can hardly believe that 39 years have gone by.

Meeting her at her home at Corgat Estate where she had taken a few days leave for a well deserved rest  after receiving her award, Mrs Salomon talked about her profession, the challenges she encountered and her joy in nursing the sick back to health.

Childhood and budding love for nursing
Marie-Antoinette Salomon born Mougal is originally from Plaisance where she went to school.

She comes from a family of eight children -- five daughters and three sons; her being the fourth born but the third daughter.

Being an asthmatic child, she was often rushed to hospital for treatment.
She still vividly recalls those times when her father carried her on his back to the Seychelles Hospital.

“I remembered the nurses and the nuns at the hospital took very good care of me,” she said.

“I was so intrigued by the way they hovered around me, making sure that when I left to go home I was really feeling well and I believe this was when my interest in the profession started,” she reminisced.

“I always wondered in my very young mind about the power the doctors and nurses have to make me and all the other sick children and grown-ups feel better. Those thoughts about taking care of the sick and nursing them back to health never left my mind and every time I was taken to hospital following an asthma attack, I became more and more interested in the white-gowned people around me,” she recalled.

“I always kept wondering how the nurses felt after all the people they cared for in hospital left to go home in better health and now I know because since that time I have nurtured and kept alive the desire to become a nurse  and here I am many years later expressing myself,” she said laughing.

From Plaisance the family moved to Belvedere where she lived until she married Raymond Salomon and with her husband she yet again moved to go and live for a short time at St Louis then Belvedere again for a year until the couple completed the construction of their own house at Corgat Estate.

 The couple then made the final and definite move to their own home in the early 80s.

Training and career development

Mrs Salomon started her training course in nursing in 1970, after completing her primary and secondary studies at Plaisance.

 She qualified in 1973 and obtained a certificate in general nursing and in 1974 obtained her midwifery license.

She recalled the brief three-month spell at the Baie Ste Anne Praslin Hospital soon after obtaining her license.

“It was only for three short months and for me it was like a short break and soon enough I was back at the Seychelles Hospital,” Mrs Salomon recalled.

She remembered the time she was doing her midwifery training during which she worked directly with the maternity ward delivering babies.

Once she completed her midwifery training, Mrs Salmon was transferred to the theatre where she has remained for the last 39 years.

For the many years assisting local and visiting surgeons in performing a large number of different surgeries including  a lot of deliveries through caesarian sections, Mrs Salomon today has no doubt that she has seen almost all types of surgeries carried out here.
“It is so awesome the various types of surgeries I have witnessed and assisted the surgeons performing and in my mind I keep thinking that I have seen all.

 The way you feel after being present in the theatre and then seeing the persons concerned weeks later walking around alive and healthy is beyond words,” she said.

Over the years, through her hard work and devotion, Mrs Salomon moved up to become a staff nurse and a nursing officer.

 In 1989 she was among the finalists for the nurses of the year award.

Mrs Salomon noted that from then on family matters called for a strong commitment on her part. She had to care for her sick parents and this required her to opt for more flexible working hours.

She had to stop doing night shifts and this of course had a direct impact on her further career progression.

Receiving her long service award recently

Mrs Salomon recalled those difficult times in her life when after hard days at work she had to dash home, muster enough strength and energy to care for her sick parents who lived with her.

Looking back she wondered how she coped.

“As a nurse I believe it is my calm, caring and compassionate nature which led me on,” she mused.

Achievements and greatest job satisfaction

“I love my profession so much and not for once did I have any doubt about my career choice,” she pointed out.

 But she admitted that there had been instances when she had really been discouraged and asked for a transfer to other departments in the same ministry and that of Education.
“But I was advised to reconsider and today looking back, I am happy that I managed to surmount all the difficulties and numerous challenges which came my way then,” she reflected.

“Again when I look back, my greatest joy is the kindness and gratitude shown to me almost every day by the many people I helped nursed back to health and the parents whose children I delivered and attended to.

“It is really a feeling of worth which is difficult to explain,” Mrs Salomon pointed out.

Family life
Mrs Salomon does not have any children. She still remembers those painful times when she was trying to have a family of her own.

“My first-born died eight hours after birth and from then on all other attempts to have a baby failed,” she recalled sadly.

Surgical intervention and medical treatment did not bring any relief and in the end the couple had to accept the fact that they could never have children.

Asked why she had not opted for adoption, Mrs Salomon said memories of some very bad experiences some of her childless relatives went through after they chose to adopt deterred her from doing so too.
She noted that on different occasions two of her nieces had lived with the couple for some time but now they have left and only one of her brothers lived with her.

“But my door is always open and they are welcomed anytime they want to come back,” she said.

Contemplating the future

Now aged 60 years, Mrs Salomon said even though she still loves her job and looks forward to go to it every day, she admits feeling her strength is waning.

“In spite of my inner strength, I no longer have the same physical agility in my steps and I feel really tired,” she observed sadly.
She also admits having already expressed the desire to resign but she plans to continue until the end of the year.

Mrs Salomon said she has been asked to stay on in her job but personally she says she does not see herself being able to perform as before.
“In future if I consider to stay on, it will be on a part-time basis,” she added.

Message to everyone considering a career in nursing

“Nursing is a very demanding and challenging profession and it is only with love, compassion, attentiveness and an inner desire to alleviate the pain and suffering of others that one can succeed in  building a long lasting career,” said Mrs Salomon.
“It is not an eight-to-four job and it calls for a lot of sacrifices and commitment,” she added.

Mrs Salomon said she is happy to note that there are committed nurses but noted the number is very few and they need a lot of encouragement and support and she is calling on each and every young people thinking about a career path to consider nursing.

“Our people need its own folks to nurse them and I am sure there are many young people out there who have those qualities but they need our support and encouragement to help them make their career choices,” she said.

Leisure activities

During her days off duty Mrs Salomon, a faithful Christian, is a fervent churchgoer and a member of the Rosary movement for 25 years now and she is also involved in other church activities.

She enjoys reading and she recalls earlier days of her career as a theatre nurse when all the little free time she had she spent looking up every new words, phrases and terminologies she had learnt from the surgeons and other health professionals.

“There are always new things to learn and these range from the different types of surgeries and their specific vocabularies, the various pieces of equipment and treatment and I eagerly wanted to know more about them all,” she said.

At home Mrs Salomon said she despises doing the cooking unless she really has to but she enjoys taking care of other chores and tending to the grounds around her house even though her husband sees to that.
With regard to other activities people enjoy doing like travelling and visiting friends, Mrs Salomon noted that surprisingly for now she does not nurture the same enthusiasm like in her younger days but noted that such desires would probably be rekindled with time as she starts enjoying her retirement.

By Marie-Anne Lepathy

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