Meet Lorna Tyrell

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As a young girl living in a small country town, Lorna knew she wanted to grow up and make a difference in the lives of others.

And she did just that – pursuing an extensive nursing career – 50 years to be exact – and making her impact on many through her care and inspiring the next generation of healthcare professionals. 

Over her 50-year career, Icon Cancer Centre Redland Registered Nurse, Lorna Tyrrell has helped thousands across ACT, New South Wales and Queensland – from community nursing to disability work to cancer care. Though she has faced challenges, including balancing motherhood and the fast-evolving healthcare industry, Lorna has never let it stop her from providing the best possible care – taking every challenge by the reigns and learning from it.    


“By moving across Australia and engaging in diverse nursing domains, my journey encapsulates the evolution of nursing in Australia, from its roots in hospital-care to embracing the challenges of contemporary healthcare,” said Lorna.

“And the memories of making a difference in the lives of others will forever hold a special place in my heart.

As a lifelong learner, Lorna joined oncology nursing five years ago in her 60s, wanting a new challenge and a new way to help more people – joining Icon Cancer Centre. When joining, Lorna also joined her daughter, Queensland Regional Medical Physics Manager, Danielle Mulherin – who was inspired to join the health field because of her Mum.

The Icon Cancer Centre Redland team recently celebrated Lorna’s 50-year milestone as a nurse, and they are grateful to have her wealth of knowledge and a strong passion for providing the best possible care.

Her extensive nursing career is filled with inspiring stories and advice to share. She shares her perspective, reflections on the past 50 years and her advice for up-and-coming nurses.

Lorna’s personal odyssey

In 1973, amidst the backdrop of a quiet country town in Griffith, I found my calling during a visit to the vocational guidance officer, Granny Lockwood. When I told her I wanted to work with animals, she threw me a brochure on nursing and stated: ”This (a person) is the most important animal of all.”

Inspired by this, I embarked on a nursing journey that spanned five decades, evolving alongside the dynamic landscape of Australian healthcare.

Early years and navigating motherhood

My journey began at Canberra Community Hospital, where hospital-based training laid the foundation for a fulfilling career. Following this, I returned to Griffith and joined the local hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. I then moved to the ACT, navigating various roles in nursing all while balancing motherhood. With limited resources and no family support, I juggled multiple nursing jobs, often working weekends and night shifts.

Exploring the options nursing has to offer

As the kids grew, I transitioned to a medical centre and later ventured into The Brain Injury Foundation – caring for those with acquired brain injuries – rewarding but challenging. A move to NSW then led me to a role as a Disability Pensions assessor and then back to a local hospital. I also completed my Immunisation course and found fulfilment specialising in Dermatology.

Travel break

As the kids left home, we finished renovating our house, sold, bought a fifth-wheeler, and explored Australia. Work was a companion during our travels, occasionally straying from nursing but always returning.

Moving to Queensland

The journey eventually led us to Queensland. We settled on Bribie Island, and for seven years, I provided flu vaccinations and health checks across various SEQ. The grandparenting chapter prompted a move back to the mainland, and a job opportunity came up at Icon, where my daughter Danielle was already working. This marked the beginning of a five-year journey with Redland – which I am still on – and would wholeheartedly describe it as the best team I have ever worked with.

Beyond work life

I have been married for 45 years and am a mother of three and grandmother of five. I love to travel, which has seen my husband and I living and working in various places across Australia – savouring the beauty of our country.

Retirement and more travel are on hold for now, but that means more free time for moments with the grandkids.

Over the years, I have also enjoyed documenting my history and creating scrapbooks capturing my children’s early years. I look forward to diving back into this hobby soon.

Danielle Mulherin: Growing up with a mother in nursing

Being raised by a nurse has instilled a high level of empathy and a strong work ethic. When looking at what career to pursue, I knew that I wanted to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

“I have seen my Mum make an incredible impact on people during some of the most vulnerable times in their lives, and I found this inspiring,” said Danielle.

“Throughout her entire career, Mum has been constantly taking on new challenges in areas she otherwise knew nothing about, continuously learning, growing, and evolving her skill set – even into the new world of radiation oncology nursing, at the ripe age of 60 (ish).

“Congratulations, Mum, on 50 years committed to helping people, inspiring others, and continuously learning!”

Lorna’s advice for new nurses

After a lot of learning and growing as a nurse over the past 50 years, Lorna has some advice for new nurses:

  • Become an active listener: this involves not just hearing but truly understanding what the patient is expressing and what they are not saying. Give your full attention, maintain eye contact, and respond empathetically to patients’ concerns and questions. Listening to patients will enhance the quality of care and contribute to positive patient experiences.
  • Build Trust: this starts with clear and honest communication. Be transparent about procedures, medications, and the plan of care. Patients are more likely to feel comfortable when they understand what to expect.
  • Experience: Try to get experience in as many areas as possible. When you find one you like, it will all fall into place, you will be happy, and hence become a confident team member.

If you’re interested in taking the next step in your cancer care career, explore opportunities with Icon Group today.


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