1. Harris, Marilyn D. MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

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I entered nursing school on September 8, 1954. Students lived on the hospital campus in a three-story Memorial Nurses Home that included the dormitory, classrooms, and a gymnasium. Each student had a single room with bed, dresser, desk with chair, and an additional chair. There was a sink with water in the room but the bathroom and shower were shared on each floor. We had house mothers and had to sign in and out. Each month we were allowed one 12:30 a.m. pass, and on all other nights had to be in our rooms by 11 p.m. There was a kitchen on each floor stocked with staples such as bread, peanut butter, and milk. Our meals were available in the hospital cafeteria but we could prepare items in the kitchen if we wanted to do so.


When we were on day duty, we had to attend breakfast for roll call. We were responsible for reading a Scripture and we sang a song. We also endured inspection before going on duty: clean shoes, shoelaces and uniform, with our bandage scissors held in place by our aprons. Our student uniform included a cotton, blue and white stripped short-sleeved dress with a starched apron, bib, and collar. Caps were presented during a capping ceremony after 6 months of being a "probie." The collar was heavily starched and many of us wore a gauze 4 x 8 around our neck to protect our skin.


The nurse in charge of student health posted the names of all students on a bulletin board in the dining room. We had to be weighed each month and this information was posted where all could see. Freshman students had to participate in the student choir and attend weekly practice in full uniform. Our choir director and pianist felt we were prepared to participate in a competition at Westminster Choir College. We met their expectation by winning first place. In retrospect, some of us thought we may have won because we looked good as a group. The photograph (still on display at the hospital) shows us with the hems of our starched aprons the same exact distance from the floor.


As I am a "saver" I have my "Experience Record." The list of competencies I had to master and the dates included:


Some procedures, such as injections, were practiced on oranges (or another student). The pill that contained a certain dose was placed on a Bunsen burner spoon, the specified amount of water added, boiled, and then the ordered dose calculated, for example, 1/2 cc was given if the pill was 50 mg and the patient was to receive 25 mg. A "narcotic count" had to be done at the end of each shift to make sure the correct number of pills was in each container, and the log signed by the individual responsible for the count.

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In retrospect, my 3 years as a student nurse provided experiences that, in today's healthcare environment, may be considered beyond my ability as a student. But, the learning experiences, responsibilities, and opportunities I had when I graduated in 1957 provided the foundation for the next 60+ years as a professional home healthcare nurse, supervisor, and administrator.