September 1972: It was like going back to 1967…. ‘transferring’ from senior secondary school to high school!! Well I had more years under my belt and I knew Toronto quite well by then, so it wasn’t that bad!!
The TGH School of Nusing was a brand new building at the corner of Gerrard & Bay, a block away from the huge hospital complex. The building had about 20 stories, the school occupying the first 3 floors and and the rest, residences, not just for student nurses, but for med students and interns as well.
I must say that compared to the British nursing school studies, the Toronto experience was much more like school. A whole whack less of actual nursing on the wards, which in the end was good for me because I could better concentrate on my nursing sciences than I could in London. I had moved back home with my family, so my life was soooooooooooo much easier, and consequently, my marks soared above my previous paltry numbers. I was very lucky when I discovered that my parents had paid my tuition.
Practical nursing was also easier, as I had spent most of my previous year actually nursing on hospital wards. In Toronto, our class was accompanied by an instructor when we finally got to the wards, and we were assigned only ONE patient each for the longest time. Of course, along with that ONE patient, came endless research into the health of same….. essays, group assignments, reports… in class. I think we must have had a few days on the ward and then a few days in class! and no, there were no weekends, except for studying and homework!!
The uniforms weren’t too bad, very North American………. a simple short white dress with short sleeves and an actual plain cotton cap that we were responsible to wash and starch ! the dress was made from a cotton/polyester fabric, much lighter than the heavy woven dress I had been used to wearing. My gammy leg still stuck out like a sore thumb, but I tried to use flesh coloured knee socks to cover my thin wasted leg and then on top of that, I wore a pair of 60 denier flesh coloured support hose and then the regulation white tights. I had to wear ‘running’ shoes, as I could not walk well in the traditional white leather nursing shoes. There were a plethora of plain white ‘athletic shoes out there in the mid 7Os, that I could walk in. There were even ‘Earth Shoes’ in white that I noticed some of my classmates & ward nurses wore. HANG TEN, was a popular young brand of ‘athletic’ shoes, and I easily either cut off the blue stripes or dyed them with white shoe dye. I may have even bought a pair of Earth Shoe knockoffs that I could walk in…………so I was much more at home in my new uniform… (oh…….. and haven’t nurses been wearing various athletic shoes for the past decade or so? ………….. I was the first!!!!)
By second year, we were up to 2 or 3 patients each. Some of the specialties were more difficult than others. I loved OBS. We had an excellent instructor and I learned so much from her. For my OBS assignment I got to follow and study a young heavily pregnant women and her boyfriend right until after the birth… even doing a post-natal home visit! I was quite shocked to recognize the ‘father’ as a guy who had actually been in a few of my classes in high school……… it was a bit a-w-k—ward, but very fulfilling and I did really well in that rotation! and needless to say, the experience was very helpful to me when I became pregnant!