This inspiring nurse, who is in her 90s, is believed to be the oldest working registered nurse in the United States. After she retired at the age of 67, she returned to her work six months later and hasn’t stopped ever since.
Florence Rigney, also known as “SeeSee” to the people around her, drives to Tacoma General Hospital in the early mornings twice a week for work. The 92-year-old works an 8-hour shift as a surgical nurse where she sets up the operating rooms and helps prep patients for surgery.
She did retire at the age of 67, but it did not last long.
“I had these thoughts I would go back to work a day or two to get extra pocket money,” Rigney told PEOPLE, “and here it is 25 years later.”
Although Rigney is a senior, her stamina rivals that of the younger hospital staff.
“She is a go-getter, she is always busy, she can’t stand downtime,” said Paula Swanson, director of surgical services. “She is as sharp as a tack and keeps up with people who are one-quarter of her age, she truly is one of a kind in the nursing world.”
“You can never have a moment where you go, ‘Ugh, I’m too tired,’” hospital technician Greg Foland told NBC News. “If you hesitate for even a second she’ll just keep on going.”
Rigney said she does move fast because she likes to keep busy and active.
“I kid and say it’s my Polish heritage,” Rigney told PEOPLE. “I like to keep busy, I am a hard worker, I don’t like to sit and do nothing.”
Rigney’s father wanted her to be a secretary, but Rigney knew she wanted to be a nurse. Nothing her father could say would change her mind, so in 1943 she started nurse training at Tacoma General and has worked as a nurse at the hospital for more than 70 years.
“I have something to get up for in the morning,” Rigney told NBC News. “And I do like to be able to interact with patients and give them what comfort and what help I can.”
Rigney’s 90th birthday celebration video went viral in 2015. Since then she has become somewhat famous.
“When we have any new residents or new nurse students come in they always say, ‘Is SeeSee working today? Can we see her, can we meet her?’” said nurse manager Cilje Kennedy.
There is no doubt that Rigney is an inspiration to many of us. Her passion for the job and for the patients is evident in all that she does.
“I love what I do, I love nursing, I just wish I could do more,” she shared.
It’s touching to watch and see Rigney in action. If ever there was a story about age being an impediment to doing something, then look at Rigney. Clearly, you’re never too old to do what you love.
Watch Florence’s inspiring story below:
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