TSN 13: Graduation

Prologue, Tales of a Student Nurse

Tales of a Student Nurse is a collection of stories based on my memories of experiences I had while training to become a Registered Nurse. It was a three year program, from 1967-1970, at the Metropolitan General Hospital School of Nursing in Windsor, Ontario. Until 1974, the majority of Ontario nurses were trained in Schools of Nursing situated in general hospitals. Each of these Schools required students to live in residence for two of the three years it took to complete the program. The stories are true, the characters existed, but all names have been changed except for mine. I hope the reader will enjoy my memories in whatever order they are read, but I recommend starting with Tale # 1 and following through in sequence, as some of the stories build on previous ones.

TSN 13: Graduation

On the seventh of June 1970, Windsor Ontario’s Metropolitan General Hospital School of Nursing hosted a graduation ceremony for my classmates and me. We were finally finished our nurses’ training, had written our provincial registration exams, and were ready to embark on our careers. All of our Nursing Instructors, the Hospital’s Administrator, Director of Nursing, and our School’s Director participated in the ceremony, congratulating us and sharing in our pride.

We graduates were dressed in long-sleeved white dress uniforms identical to the navy blue student nurse’s uniform we’d worn for three long years. A large gold oval brooch with the School’s logo - the goddess Hygiea, encircled by the Latin words Salus Hominibus - etched onto it was affixed to the centre of our uniform’s neckline. This had been a graduation gift to us from the Hospital, and we wore it with pride. Dressed in all white, the symbol of nurses of that era, it was confirmed: we had finally become Registered Nurses, the goal each of us had set for ourselves in what felt like a lifetime ago.

Outside the Residence doors, a chartered bus waited to take us to the most prestigious public venue in Windsor at the time, the Cleary Auditorium. An honour guard of our Nursing Instructors plus first and second year student nurses lined up on either side of the sidewalk that led us to the bus. The proudest moment of my life to date was stepping out of the Residence and walking down the sidewalk to the bus while nursing students in uniform, and Nursing Instructors in white, stood at attention in our honour.

As we boarded the bus, hoots of congratulations from the members of the honour guard filled the air. As we were driven to the Cleary, each of us was eager for our loved ones to see us in our all-white garb. The most precious people in my life: my parents, sister, brothers and my best friend, were waiting in the audience to share this momentous day with me. My heart was filled to bursting with anticipation of my soon-to-begin career. I had been offered a full time position in the hospital’s Intensive/Coronary Care unit (ICU/CCU), and I had joyfully accepted it. I'd spent the last eight weeks of third year working there and had loved it. My new job would start in two weeks.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
author
Barbara Tiessen is a retired RN who lives with her husband in southwestern Ontario but winters in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. She researched her genealogy, wrote and self published The Schoenfeld Russlaender: A Mennonite Family's History in 2015. More recently her interest have focused on writing short stories.
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