When she was 4 years old, Joanne Dodd knew she wanted to be a nurse. That was more than 75 years ago.
Dodd, now 80, started training to become a nurse in 1952. Things were much different back then.
She and her classmates trained on each other, learning how to administer shots. Some equipment that is now thrown away after one use, was repeatedly used after sterilization. Nurses couldn’t even tell patients their blood pressure when Dodd first started.
So much has changed over the years, but Dodd has been a mainstay at the Billings Clinic. She held many positions there, including the director of nursing and, for the last 19 years, she worked for the Billings Clinic Foundation.
Now, Dodd is ready to retire. Many colleagues and friends joined Dodd to celebrate her retirement on Wednesday afternoon.
But this isn’t the first time Dodd tried to retire.
When she reached Medicare age, about 16 years ago, she retired after working at the foundation for four years. At the time she was in the midst of planning the Billings Clinic Foundation’s annual “Classic,” the major fundraising effort for the foundation. She stayed on as a volunteer through the summer and was back on the payroll by the fall.
But Dodd’s decided that it is finally time to retire for good.
“I’m happy that I am at this point in my career,” Dodd said. “I loved what I was doing so I just kept doing it. I have had so many good opportunities here.”
Dodd was born and raised on a farm just outside of Billings. She spent almost all of her 56 years after she became a nurse in Billings. For a brief stint, Dodd went to California, but came back to Billings as a nurse. She held different positions within the Billings Clinic before moving to the Billings Clinic Foundation. Planning for the Classic was Dodd’s main responsibility at the foundation.
Jim Duncan, president of the Billings Clinic Foundation, said he is sad to see the day Dodd finally retired.
“Her dedication is unending,” Duncan said. “She’s a legend. She is an amazing woman and has had an amazing career.”
Duncan, who worked with Dodd for 19 years, said he was always impressed by Dodd’s work ethic and knowledge of the organization.
“She is always open to new ideas, but she has also helped me not go down paths that she knew haven’t worked or won’t work,” Duncan said. “She is a nurse at her core and helped many of us at the foundation who don’t have that clinical experience.”
Dodd also has the ability to have a good time at work, Duncan said.
“She is always a lot of fun to be around,” Duncan said. “But she is always professional and respectful”
Now that she is retired, Dodd said she plans to do a bit of traveling. She has a trip to Santa Fe, N.M., planned for the fall and wants to golf in Arizona during the winter. Regardless of what she does, Dodd plans to volunteer.
Dodd will miss the people the most, she said.
“Sometimes I’ll go over to the clinic for something that would take 15 minutes and I’ll come back an hour later because of all the people I talk to along the way,” Dodd said, after hugging goodbye with attendees of her retirement party. “The warmth of the place and all of the genuine people are what I will miss most. The support and camaraderie are fantastic.”
Despite all of the changes throughout her years at the Billings Clinic, Dodd said the ability for different positions to collaborate with each other, was one of the best things to happen.
“When I first started out, nurses did their jobs. Doctors did their job,” Dodd said. “There was no way for them to consult each other because it was always the doctor making the decisions. Now doctors get together with each other and talk about their patients. Nurses and doctors work together as a team.”
Duncan hopes that Dodd will still stay on as an asset to the foundation.
“Once she has had some time to disengage from her job,” Duncan said, “I’ll give her a call and ask what she thinks on certain decisions. Her opinion will always help.”