Orlando Health, Orlando Regional Medical Center – Orlando, FL.
My name is Patricia Sassner and I was born as Patricia Sikerick in Sanford, Florida.
You’re a Florida native.
I’m a Florida native. My mother was a Florida native. She was born here in Orlando.
Did you grow up in Sanford?
Actually, I grew up in Sebring, Florida. I left Sanford when I was five and grew up in Sebring. But I had relatives on my dad’s side of the family who lived in Sanford. And my mother’s side of the family lived here in Orlando. But we visited frequently.
What was Orlando like when you used to come to visit?
Well, we would come down the two lane road of 17-92 and… there used to be absolutely nothing but farms between Orlando and Sanford. And we would drive back and forth and visit our relatives.
My grandmother and my mother grew up on Summerlin, and the house there is now a historical place, I believe, that they grew up in. And we would come every Thanksgiving and visit her. Every Christmas we would go to Sebring to visit my dad’s family. And it was – they had parks all over the place – and it was very, very open. It was really nice.
What did your parents do for a living?
My father’s family owned a glass and paint business as he ran a glass and paint store. He was a contractor to put glass in big buildings and offices, things like that.
And your mom?
My mom normally she would stay at home. But she worked as the secretary and as the office front person for my dad in his business. So they worked together.
Where were you educated?
I went to school in Sebring. I went to elementary and high school in Sebring. And then, I came here to Orange Memorial School of Nursing after I graduated from high school and was educated here. And after I graduated from here, I continued my education and got my Bachelor of Science degree after I had gotten married in Columbus, Georgia. And when I moved back to Florida, I got my Master in Nursing from the University of Florida.
What was it like going to school here?
It was very different. Everybody was very friendly. Everybody was very open. We could walk from Orange Memorial Hospital. We could walk downtown and walk back and feel perfectly safe and perfectly fine. We could walk to the different parks in the area, to Lake Eola, and places like that. And, you know, we would ride our bikes to Colonial Plaza, or Colonial Mall, to Ronnie’s, it used to be there. We could ride our bikes there. And it was very, much more friendly and open then what the world is today.
The hospital itself was much smaller and they had wards. You know, and the wards were like 40 beds. And we would be working on the wards. And we started working at the hospital as soon as two weeks into our nursing education. When we first started to work at the hospital, at that time, and we worked the rest of our time at classroom and clinical labs type things. And we also worked at the hospital full time there.
That’s an excellent training environment.
It was. Wonderful. I always said that you learn a lot more bedside with what you’re doing. You could visualize what the book was telling you much easier whenever you were with the patients that are there.
What was your career path?
My career path when I graduated from nursing school, my dad said I should go into the service. I said, “No. I don’t want to do that. I’m afraid of guns. Don’t like it. But I will take care of those served.” Because I really appreciate them taking care of me and our homeland. And so, most of my career has been working in the VA System as a nurse and a nurse practitioner.
And you’re glad that you chose that?
I’m very glad. I love what I do. I’ve always loved what I do. I knew from the time I was in the sixth grade that I was going to be a nurse anyway. And I was preparing myself. So in high school I was taking courses like Latin and things like that to prepare me for going into nursing. I volunteered as a Candy Striper is what they called it then, in nursing homes in my home town so I could take care of the elderly; and see what it was like taking care of people, changing beds and things like that.
Holistic Approach to Medicine
And so, I’m very, very happy. The only thing I might have done over again is I might have gotten higher education sooner than what I did. But, I love being able to take care of the patients and take care of their families. Tell them everything that is going on; do a holistic approach to medicine.
Were there any particular patients or events that stick out in your mind as being especially meaningful?
No, not really. Everybody is an individual and everybody is the same. I know there was some times in my career, because I did a lot of intensive care nursing too, and when I was in the intensive care, you could talk to a person who was maybe not long for this world and you could say, “Hang in there. Your family is on the way here.” And you could literally see them listening to you and staying there until their family arrives. And that’s always been a blessing to be able to do that.
Were there historical events that took place that affected your work at all?
The wars. Especially the Vietnam War because I was seeing a lot of people coming back that had injuries. And coming back mentally not real well, as well as physically not real well. And that had a lot of impact on what was happening at the time and what was going on. But then I was in that situation because I was in a military hospital or a VA hospital so we were getting that. That’s the main reality in my life that’s affected me.
Were there funny times? Were there moments where you played practical jokes?
Oh, there were always funny times. There’s always funny times. I can’t really think of any right off the top of my head. You know, there’s always times when things happen and you have to laugh and you have to joke about it; and you have to relax about it because otherwise forget it. It’s there.
Is there anyone in particular that you worked with that maybe was a mentor or colleague that you especially appreciate? Maybe what they taught you or someone that you’re grateful for? Or even a program?
Probably, I purposefully chose Orange Memorial School of Nursing because I knew it was a very good program. I knew I could get into the trenches immediately and start working with the patients immediately which is what I really wanted to do. I could care less about the books, you know I just wanted to be able to be in there and help.
Orange Memorial School of Nursing Program
And I chose it purposely. I had been admitted to the University of Florida and the Florida State, but I chose here for that reason so I could do that. And I would not have changed that at all because it really kept me focused and kept me knowing what was going on. And I did not get the reality check that people get whenever they get out of school and they go into the world and start working. I already had that because I knew what it was like. I’d been there.
What do you value most about the profession?
The ability to approach a person who is ill and to be able to guide them to a better way of living. And to help their family cope with any changes that might be making with them, so that they will live for years longer.
Well thank you so much for speaking with us today. Thank you for taking time. And thank you for your legacy to the medical community.
You’re very welcome.
Interview: Patricia Sassner, RN, MSN
Interviewer: Jane Tracy
Date: May 19, 2018
Place: Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center
Oral History Interview with Patricia Sassner, RN, MSN at Orlando Health - Orlando Regional Medical Center on May 19, 2018. The interview was conducted at the 1968 Class Reunion of Orange Memorial Nursing School Graduates held at Orlando Health's Orlando Regional Medical Center in the centennial year of Orlando Health's service to the Central Florida community.
Interview: Patrica Sassner, RN, MSN
Interviewer: Jane Tracy
Date: May 9, 2018
Place: Orlando Health - Orlando Regional Medical Center