Partial Transcript: So tell me a little bit about your upbringing.
Segment Synopsis: Grew up Marshall, Wisconsin in a town of around 400 people. Her mother was a graduate of Madison General Hospital. As she grew up, she knew that it would be her goal to attend Madison General due to the precedent set by her mother. She went to Madison General right after she graduated high school.
Keywords: Marshall, WI
Partial Transcript: Was nursing popular just in this community?
Segment Synopsis: RW tells how her mother was the "town goat", and anybody that was hurt or sick went to her for help. She would accompany her father and mother when her mother would visit community members on house calls. It was not a big change, she had been to Madison many times and was not surprised by the city atmosphere. She claims she always knew that "that was what she was going to do." She graduated from high school in 1946 and from Madison General in 1949.
Keywords: community medicine; housecalls
Partial Transcript: And you said you’d been to Madison before. But what would you say excited you most
Segment Synopsis: She always knew she wanted to be a nurse, and to meet all new people from across the United States was great. By the end of the first week, they had shrunk from a class of forty to a class of around twenty-five. RW remembers getting up at 6:30am every morning for "devotions", which she explained were church services the nurses were required to attend. They were expected to go from their dorm Rest Harrow to McConnell Hall gymnasium and engaged in the ceremony, then went back and prepared for classes.
Partial Transcript: what were your experiences living in um...
Segment Synopsis: They were a fun and close group who still keep in contact today. Some of the teachers as well as a house mother lived in the dorms. Sometimes they would need to hide from the housemother on upper floors if they stayed up too late. She and all of her friends had boyfriends, so often they would go home to see them. Socially, some would smoke or walk down the street. The students didn’t have any money, so they never really went anywhere. When asked about a stipend she said that they did not receive any. She misses her friends most of all, some who live in Wisconsin and some in the further Midwest area.
Keywords: dormitory; rules
Partial Transcript: So shifting kind of more to your training, can you describe some of the technical training that you engaged in?
Segment Synopsis: They had "nursing arts" classes. They would learn to make beds, give enemas, in the basement in McConnell Hall. There were several classrooms in the building which she described as very nice. They also had a kitchen. Her classes were excellent, as were her professors who were all nurses. She says that Professor Sabatka was most influential to her.
Keywords: nursing arts
Partial Transcript: And were there any particularly challenging parts of school that you remember just struggling through?
Segment Synopsis: No. She just knew she was going to be a nurse, and in going to school she knew at the end of the day she had to get it done. She enjoyed learning with her classmates, and she enjoyed the rigorous days. In the first years, they did a lot of aid work.
Partial Transcript: did you guys have any rules that the school set on you at all?
Segment Synopsis: Yes, they had to be in at nine o’clock every evening, excepting for one night out where they were still required to be back between 11 and midnight. They did not frequent bars or restaurants much. Her husband joins the conversation emphasizing that with such a hard schedule and early mornings, there weren’t many opportunities to leave campus or their studies. She describes some her time in Chicago and nights out there, as well as her work there.
Keywords: curfews; rules
Partial Transcript: Yeah, we were at Cook County for nine months.
Segment Synopsis: RW describes some of her time in Chicago working in a hospital there, and how they would walk around what they called "the loop" late at night without worrying for their well-being. RW describes the different nursing units in the hospital (labelling them "Peds, Ortho-peds, Orthopedics, and Psych). Walking around the floor she was assigned to was also an interesting task, as she would have to walk past the morgue to get to her station on occasion. [She clarifies that this was in 1948, the year before she graduated from Madison General.]
Keywords: Chicago; Orthopedics; Psychology
Partial Transcript: Were there any practices or methods that you learned in school that would be kind of unusual today?
Segment Synopsis: She laughingly comments "bed baths", in which nurses would literally bathe the patients while they were in their bed using washcloths and water basins. They were not allowed to do IV's until their last year of schooling. There was one RN who started all the IV's for the floor.
Keywords: bed baths
Partial Transcript: And are there any memories that stick out to you about your time training at Madison General?
Segment Synopsis: She once again emphasizes how close they were as a group, and that working and playing together made those years great. Their rigorous schedule made it hard to have much recreational time, but they still managed to have a great time. She comments on how she never second guessed her safety on campus either.
Keywords: comradery; friendship
Partial Transcript: So just tell me a little bit about your career after you graduated.
Segment Synopsis: She worked at Madison General for a year before getting married. She had two boys and stayed home for eight years. She then moved to Columbus, Wisconsin to work as a nurse there as a night supervisor. First floor was medical, second floor OB, third floor long term care/emergency. She had the third floor which she staffed, although she comments that there were not many patients coming in. Emergencies were things like lacerations, pregnancy troubles, any suturing would have to be done by a doctor who lived in a house nearby. She worked as a nurse for almost 40 years, and specialized on the surgical floor. There were only about 2-3 cases a night, but towards the end of her career they were hiring more staff.
Keywords: emergency nursing; night nursing; surgical nursing
Partial Transcript: And what were some of the challenges that you faced in your career, if you can remember any?
Segment Synopsis: Every case was a challenge in a way, as she wanted to do the best she could to take care of her patients. In that way, every night was also fulfilling, in that people were very grateful for what you did for them and there were much closer patient-nurse relationships. Some kids stayed in the hospital for long periods of time and the nurses took care of them
Keywords: patient-nurse relationships
Partial Transcript: And what advice would you give to nursing students who are kind of going through what you went through right now?
Segment Synopsis: It's a very different situation today, but when you're in nursing training you need to give it your all, be there for people, take what you're given and work your best to help people. She is grateful for her nursing school peers who she has had throughout her life as dear friends.
Keywords: hard work; sacrifice