The passion for midwifery drove one St Ann nurse to dedicate 46 years of service to the Jamaican health sector.
In October 1965, Nurse Dorrett Smikle joined the St. Ann Parish Council and was later transferred to the Ministry of Health in 1985, where she served as a registered Midwife until her retirement in 2011.
Ms. Smikle’s early beginning was set from a community just outside Brown’s Town, called Rosetta. She grew up with six siblings and they were raised by their mother, who was a dressmaker, and her father, a farmer.
At a young age she attended a private school, followed by the Charlton Infant School at age four. She then transitioned into Charlton Elementary School and completed her time at age 16.
Although a nurse at heart, Ms. Smikle had started out teaching at a basic school after which she worked part time at a post office. It was while she was working at the basic school she realized the passion she had for young children. She was then encouraged by a nurse to go into nursing and decided to take on the challenge.
She then acquired training at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital from January 1964 to July 1965.
After starting her nursing career, her love for teenagers and for helping those who had become pregnant too early inspired her to open a teenage clinic, the only one of its kind in the region at the Brown’s Town Health Centre. This clinic provided an opportunity for pregnant teens between the ages of 12 and 19 to get emotional support. Some were even privileged enough to renter the school system. It was this same love for teens which also lead Ms. Smikle to work on secondment for two years at the Women’s Centre which was then located in Brown’s Town.
Ms. Smikle has had quite a number of enthralling experiences and spoke of one which stands out. She was able to deliver undiagnosed twins one of which was a breech birth. She also told the North Coast Times the love for her job comes from seeing “The mother go through pregnancy and the child developing after birth”.
During these 46 years of service, Ms. Smikle has had several home deliveries of which all are live births. “I pray before each delivery,” she says.
Being an advocate for the Christian faith, Ms. Smikle, is an active member of the Brown’s Town Baptist Church. She holds the positions of group leader, choir member, lieutenant in the Girls Brigade and a Sunday school teacher. She was also an officer for over 12 years, however, with her home being in Retreat, distance from church became a challenge and she was unable to hold the position.
Despite being a strict disciplinarian, during her tenure she was able to foster good relations with her clients and even mend families which were broken as a result of pregnancy.
In addition to helping many other families, Ms. Smikle was also able to raise a family of her own. She is the mother of five children; two girls and three boys.
During her career, she also served as president of the PTA at the Brown’s Town Community College where she then became a member of the school board for 25 years.
Ms. Smikle was honoured for being midwife supervisor for Brown’s Town and Alexandria health districts and also as a long serving board member.