Mama Liz Nursery Night Nurse Diaries Category

Nursing school was quite challenging to say the least.  I knew that the human body was extremely complex, but I never realized how difficult it would be to memorize all the bones, muscles, organs, nerves, and every system that makes us the amazing creatures that we are.

The sleepless nights and early risings were endless.  College and nursing classes filled every day to the fullest.  It was important that we remember all that we were taught.  We were going to be responsible for the care and well-being of others.

Living in a girls’ dormitory was quite different from what I had experienced growing up.  Having a house mother to watch over us and keep us in check was something else.  Why did we have to sign out to go anywhere and sign in when we returned?  It was like we were little children.  However, rules were rules, and there were consequences for not following them.

Curfew was early because the house mother and others over us knew we would have to spend long hours cracking the books.  Boys were not allowed except in the entry way, and then only on weekends.  Hand-holding and closeness of any other kind were not allowed and strictly enforced by the house mother.

So it was that many nights, after reading and memorizing until our brains felt like mush, we would raid the kitchen searching for any available morsel of food.  Sometimes I felt like a mouse, looking in every cupboard and in the refrigerator for a semblance of anything edible.  Our staple was peanut butter, and you would be amazed at all the creative mixtures we made with it to satisfy our hunger before snuggling into bed.

Where does one begin to describe a nursing career that has spanned over 50 years and is still continuing?  It is quite amazing, since I never really wanted to become a nurse.  As a young woman, I never had it on my list of job choices.

My mother, on the other hand, had other ideas.  She wanted a nurse in the family.  Being one of six children, I felt sure she would convince one of my other sisters to succumb.  I had never had a penchant for blood and other GI fluids that a nurse quite frequently encounters.  She had poor health, including a bad heart condition, so I stayed home for the year following my high school graduation to help care for my siblings.  This gave her extra time to convince me to at least take the nursing entrance exam being given at our local hospital’s School of Nursing.  Not being the best student I could have been, I felt quite sure that I had no chance of passing the exam.  Unfortunately, the nursing school felt otherwise.

I can still remember the shock on my face as I opened the letter that would chart my path for many years to come:  “We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the Cumberland Hospital School of Nursing and look forward to seeing you at the beginning of the 1968 school year.”  And that was the beginning.