After more than 36 years of dedicated service to NSW Health and NSW Health Pathology, Ruth Rowan, former lab manager at Tweed Heads is taking a well-deserved break and heading into retirement.
From the rugged coasts and green landscapes of her native Northern Ireland, to working in the New England, Moree and the Northern NSW Coast, Ruth has passionately worked in pathology and witnessed many changes over the decades.
Ruth has been an integral part of the Tweed Heads Hospital community, working in various pathology departments an creating strong relationships within the Tweed Hospital network.
“I returned from Northern Ireland in 1988 and have been employed by NSW Health or NSW Health Pathology ever since,” she said.
“I started at the relief scientist in the New England area before moving to Moree, where I was a generalist scientist and enjoyed being part of the rural community.”
In 2001, Ruth made a sea change and moved over to Tweed Heads, where she was the scientist in charge of microbiology, before becoming the senior scientist in charge of the Tweed, Murwillumbah and Byron laboratories.
Ruth’s colleagues spoke glowingly of her talent, skills and mentorship.
“Ruth has been an invaluable asset to NSW Health Pathology and her commitment, expertise and leadership have not only propelled the pathology department forward but shaped the lives and careers of up-and-coming scientists and technical staff,” said current Tweed Heads Lab Manager Owen Van Eck.
Beyond her professional accomplishments, Ruth has been a mentor and a source of support for all staff. Her genuine care for the wellbeing for others has created an environment that has nurtured personal and professional growth.
Ruth said a career highlight has been working in regional public pathology because of the opportunities it presents.
“Working in rural and regional labs gives you a broad experience and exposure to more than you could often achieve in a metropolitan area. I’ve enjoyed being involved directly with the clinicians and patients to make a diagnosis, which is so rewarding,” Ruth said.
“When I first started work in Pathology you had very little choice for a professional career – basically it was nursing or teaching. I didn’t want to do either. After school I had a scholarship in biochemistry but wanted to travel so applied for a traineeship with the Commonwealth to work in the Alice Springs Laboratory,” Ruth said.
“I’ve stayed working in public pathology for this long because of our patients, and I’m proud to say I’ve treated every patient as I would like to be treated.”
Ruth recommends the Tweed region as a great place to live and work.
“If you rule out Northern Ireland, the Tweed region is God’s own country. You have the water, all year-round sun and you’re just minutes from an international airport. What more could you ask for?”
Ruth retires from NSW Health Pathology leaving the organisation in a better place. She is proud to have been part of the team planning and redesigning a new purpose-built new laboratory, due to open in 2024 as part of the Tweed Hospital Redevelopment.
“If I want to be remembered for anything, it’s my involvement in the designing of the new laboratory, which is due to open next year. Our staff work tirelessly, often behind the scenes and out of the spotlight. They deserve to work in the best lab environment, as their contributions every day help protect the health and safety of our communities,” Ruth said.
After a stellar career, it’s now time for a new chapter.
Thanks for your incredible work Ruth – enjoy retirement.
As the Irish say:
May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields
Until we meet again.