Camaraderie Amongst Students in Early Hospital Schools

Mary Pyne sat in the emergency room worrying about having to help deliver her first baby. Mary was a nursing student whose classmate had just called: there was a woman coming to the emergency room already in labour and ready to give birth. Mary was wondering why her classmate had called her- she had not even had her obstetrics training yet! Mary waited in the emergency room for the pregnant woman to arrive and after a long while, realized that she was the victim of a prank played by her fellow classmate. There was no woman about to give birth coming to the emergency room.

Because of the close quarters in which nursing students lived in hospital schools, very close bonds would develop that would last a lifetime. With these close bonds came many fun times and many pranks, like the one Mary experienced, were played among the students. Many classes have reunions every few years where the grads catch up with old friends and remember the times when they all lived under the same roof. Fond and vivid memories of training days remain even in the minds of nurses who graduated close to half a century ago.

The social life of nursing students was heavily restricted by the rules of the school. St. Paul's Hospital School of Nursing was an example of this. Not only were early nights the norm, with only one late pass allowed per month, but the schools also distributed a limited amount of spending money for the students to spend on their few days off. There would be dances and performances held by the school for social activities. Despite the restrictions placed on nursing students, many look back on the experience as a positive one, explaining that lifelong friendships were the most important thing gained from nurse training.

Many nurses who graduated from hospital nursing schools believe nursing students today are missing out on the fun times that can only be had when nursing students live together.