in Nursing Schools
Chartier has no regrets about deciding to become a nurse. She vividly
remembers her nursing training at St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon: it
took three years of clinical training, classes and providing services on
the wards for her to get through. She lived in residence, as was required
of all nurse trainees, and followed the strict rules imposed on students.
Classes were held for instruction on theory and other topics that could
not be taught on the ward, but class time was minimal compared to the course
work of today's nursing graduates. Students would usually put in ten or
twelve hours on wards and would attend lectures in addition. Linda Long,
a graduate of Yorkton Hospital School of Nursing, remembers working a night
shift and then only having a few hours of sleep if she didn't want to miss
her noon lecture. Until the introduction of the Centralized Teaching Program,
nursing students, like Georgiana and Linda, took all of their training
at one hospital.
were accepted to hospital training schools and were immediately put to
work on the wards doing tasks such as scrubbing bed pans, washing walls and
cleaning linen cupboards. While these tasks were not directly related to
nursing, asking questions could get a student into trouble. As their training
progressed, students would gradually be given more responsibility for
nursing tasks. Students would perform this work in return for their
training. There was no cost to students for training and they
received a monthly stipend which basically amounted to spending money.
students from this era look back on their training fondly, accepting
the menial tasks as simply the first step in working their way up. For
others, however, it seemed a militaristic and hierarchical system that
needed to be changed.
recalls her arrival at nursing school. Francis Stearns, a 1926
St. Paul's Hospital graduate, remembers exactly what she was required
to report to the Superintendent of Nurses on August 20, bringing with
me: three uniforms, six aprons (length six inches from the floor), six bibs,
three collars similar to clerical ones, three stiff belts, three pairs
of stiff cuffs, six cotton underskirts, three cotton and three flannel night
gowns, three pairs of black shoes, one dozen pairs of black stockings,
six pairs of bloomers, three cotton and three wool undervests, two pairs
of corsets, one kimono, two pairs of bedroom slippers, a watch and twelve
these had to be marked with a printed cotton name-tape and sewn in by
in the afternoon. The Superintendent took me directly to a twenty-bed
dormitory where I met my fellow classmates. There were twenty of us.
From the time we arrived until the lights out bell rang, we were very
busy girls, putting our uniforms etc., away in our cupboards.