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.
1. Tales of a Student Nurse: Registration Day
It was a crisp, sunny day on September 7, 1967 as I stood on the front lawn of the Metropolitan General Hospital School of Nursing in Windsor, Ontario. It was Registration Day: I’d been accepted into the nursing program and I was filled with a mixture of excitement and fear. Although there were three hospital schools of nursing in Windsor; I had chosen this one because my cousin, Alice, urged me to come join her. She had just finished her first year of nurses’ training and assured me I’d love it there.
Three days shy of my eighteenth birthday, and fresh off the farm, I was a naive country girl about to move into a student nurses’ residence in the big city far away – 45 km – from home. It was 1967 after all, the internet hadn’t yet been invented: there were no cell phones, Skype, nor Face Time. I might as well have been half the world away. Over the next three years of my life, untethered from what was predictable and safe, I was going to learn to become a Registered Nurse. The recognition of how much I had to learn knotted my stomach.
My eyes locked onto the exterior facade of the two story red brick building that was to be my home. Above its roof line the hulking bulk (in my eyes) of the Metropolitan General Hospital filled my view. I couldn’t begin to imagine what lay in store for me there in that forbidding, intimidating, four story building. Luckily, my state of anxiety was interrupted by the arrival of another timid young woman about my age. She was there to register as well.
I’d previously received a small booklet by mail outlining what was to happen on this day. All the new students were to enroll between 9 and 11 am after which we’d be met by the House Mother who would introduce us to our Big Sisters. We’d be shown to our rooms, and after settling in, we’d gather back in the “Grey Room” to wait our turns to be interviewed by the Director of the School. We were urged not to “be scared – she doesn’t bite” but really, how could we not be?