BRIGHAM CITY -- When Darlene Bean started working as a nurse, men weren't allowed in the delivery room, needles were sterilized and reused and there were only a handful of antibiotics to treat infection.
Now, as Bean, 76, is retiring from Brigham City Community Hospital, not only are husbands allowed in the delivery room, entire families participate in the event. Reusing a needle would be a crime, and antibiotics are too numerous to count.
"A lot has changed over the years," Bean said. "I used to wear the white nurse's uniform to work every day. Now I wear pants and scrubs."
She still wears her white nurse's cap, though.
"I earned it," she said. "In order to get your cap, you were on six months' probation, and then you got to go to the capping ceremony. It also looks professional and tells people who you are."
Bean has wanted to be a nurse since she was 7 years old. Her mother was a nurse, she said, which probably influenced her decision.
"I just always wanted to help people," she said. "I really enjoyed Bible study and was actually going to go on a mission to South America for my church, but I applied for nursing school and got in, so the mission never happened."
Bean got her nursing degree from Mercy Hospital in Denver and worked there for four years. She then moved to California and worked as a nurse for another eight years before coming to Utah. She arrived at Brigham City Community Hospital in 1977, just one year after it opened its doors.
Bean has worked in the emergency room, postpartum floor and, currently, the medical and surgical floor. She said she has had some incredible experiences. Some very sad, such as the time a woman died during her eighth month of pregnancy. Unfortunately, the baby also died.
But other experiences have been uplifting and rewarding, she said.
"I like working with patients and helping them get better," she said. "I try to treat everyone with respect and give them a chance to help in their recovery as much as possible. I will miss taking care of them and working with my fellow co-workers."
Bean was born in Omaha, Neb., and was raised in North Platte, Neb. She and her husband, the late William Richard, have six children and 11 grandchildren.
When she's not working, Bean enjoys sewing, reading, knitting and Bible study. She said after retirement she plans to relax and enjoy the rest of her life to the fullest.
"Nursing is a great profession," she said. "If you don't like to wait on people and care for them with a lot of compassion, then you shouldn't be a nurse."