Excerpt from Anna R. Harrison

Miss Anna R. Harrison, a graduate of the first class and later superintendent of the Training School, wrote of her life as a student nurse in the Alumnae Journal:

It was with fear and dread that we endeavored to perform the duties which were necessarily heaped upon us, and when three weeks slipped by, and we were installed in the care of ‘abdominal cases’ which the motherly practical nurses had had charge of, it was hardly more than we could expect to be called ‘young things who did not know anything about nursing.’
 
Right at the first we could not have the instruction we really needed for lack of time as there were too many patients for the number of nurses to care for.
 
It was a great surprise to be told by the Superintendent of Nurses before the month of probation had passed to ‘please appear in uniform the next day and be ready to assist in the operating room’ with the added injunction, ‘do not disgrace yourselves by fainting.’
 
The splendid lectures given the nurses by the professors of the medical department of the University, even though they came usually in the evening after a long day’s work, were thankfully received, for we felt that every word of instruction was necessary.
 
The Superintendent of Nurses ‘instilled it into our minds that we were seldom doing anything just right’ so our opinion of our capabilities in the nursing world was far from exalted.
 
Our powers of endurance must have been stronger at that time than they are now, for we have memories of a rushing morning in a ward, with a long afternoon in the clinic room and a ‘special case’ in the evening, and that would mean perhaps a three day vigil or it would be care of a ward full of patients.
 
Sometimes there would be over 30 in the women’s ward, five in the small ward, and six in the private rooms for one poor night nurse to look after. Carrying her small candle, the night nurse made her rounds through the wards every half hour, and by morning she would be ready for her ‘downy couch.’
 
We were always sorry though for any ill report to the Superintendent of Nurses or the Superintendent of the Hospital, and there were some tear-stained faces during those first months.
 
Just to prove how hard we were to manage in the Training School at that time, we had three superintendents of nurses during our two year course, and each one in turn thought we had been given the wrong kind of training.
 
One other nurse joined our class after a few months, and credit was given her for work in another school, so we numbered seven in all of the senior nurses, and then we had about four juniors so we had some responsibility in being head nurses and telling the younger nurses all we knew. 
 
After our months of what we thought real work, we were given our diplomas publicly in the Chapel of University Hall, and there we listened to talks by President Angell, Regent Barbour and Dr. Vaughn. Mrs. Angell presented us with our certificates. After that, there was a reception at President Angell’s home and the graduates were given so many flowers the nursing superintendent told us to share them with the junior nurses.