Friday, May 13, 2016


Last Saturday was the Riverside White Cross nursing class of 1971 reunion luncheon and I'm so glad I chose to attend. There were 34 of us present, from a class of 61. Some of us hadn't seen each other for 45 years, which is still hard to embrace. From Columbus, I moved to Dayton, Ohio immediately after graduation and only had contact with two of my former classmates through the years, and those encounters were brief. If not for Facebook, and some of our determined classmates, I doubt we would have reconnected at all. We wondered why we hadn't known of the RWC luncheons that had been held through the years, but the reason became clear when we were told Riverside Hospital had lost all of our contact information. Much of it wouldn't have been accurate anyway, due to marriages, moves, and career changes. We had to remember all those records were on paper - no computers back then.   

It was affirming to realize that almost all my former classmates had experienced feelings of insecurity and concerns about passing courses (as I did) while we were in training, but I hadn't known about that until Saturday when we were sharing and catching up on each others' lives. Each of us expressed that she'd thought she was the only one to have felt that way. I also learned that each of us who had gone home for the weekends dreaded Sunday nights when we'd be driven back to the dorm. Then it was back to the work in the hospital, classrooms, and labs. For me, Sunday night also meant donning a lab coat and walking over to the hospital to my assigned floor for the coming week. I needed to look through charts and write down my patients' medication lists. I'd then have to research any and all side effects, adverse reactions, and reasons for administration. I'd be tested during my floor experience that week. Even though it's been many years since those days, I sometimes still think of how my Sunday nights used to be spent and I recall those long study sessions. Medication lists were just the tip of the iceberg . . .

What was so uplifting about the reunion was the fact we still felt a sincere kinship to each other as we recalled our days in nursing school and were reminded of which instructors were kind and which were not. We had lived in a very strict environment - 10pm curfews, every student locked in her dorm at night, permission needed if we decided to marry before graduation, no cooking or storing food in the dorms, no hot plates, microwaves, nor refrigerators in the dorm, and many more rules than I can presently name. Those of us who shared our memories also shared that what we experienced was intense and difficult, but then, we didn't expect it would be easy. 

After all the stories were told and we were ready to part ways again, one of our classmates said, "You know, even though it was hard, when we graduated, I felt prepared", and we agreed. It WAS hard, but we did feel as if we were prepared to be Registered Nurses.
 The student nurses dorm is on the bottom left of this photo.
This is how Riverside Methodist Hospital looked in 1971.


Merilyn said...

So nice to read about your Nursing Reunion. While reading through your post I was reminded very much of my own Nursing training, yes, in the hospital system, unlike today where they train in Universities.
And living in the Nurses' accommodation, all those rules, all those restrictions, curfew 10pm, starched white aprons, keeping our nails short and clean, studying/exams.......but the bonds we all formed, the sisterhood, lending someone else a dress for a 'big date', pitching in with makeup/hairdo for that 'big date', getting another stripe on our uniform sleeve for each year we progressed and finally graduation.....and yes, we're all scattered now, specialising in different disciplines, becoming a head nurse, educator, mentor to those that follow us......they were golden days.....thankyou for sharing your experiences and reminding me......thankyou!!!!!!!

Kady said...

We are kindred spirits then. While I was under all those restrictions, I disliked it immensely. It wasn't that I wanted to be wild - I didn't. I was always compliant and obedient, but it was so restrictive. But...after being able to look back on those days, I know it was for our own well being and I think we were better people for having those life experiences. I trust you felt that way as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.