Student Nurses at Letterman


      The word education brings before most of us a vision of the days we spent sitting at a desk with some weary faced teacher before us strenuously trying to drill into our none-too-receptive heads the knowledge contained in many books, but in the education of a student nurse, while the information obtained from books is necessary, it plays only about one-fourth of the leading part—the eye must be educated to observe accurately, the brain educated to think quickly, and the hand educated to serve skillfully.

      In the Army School the student nurse has very wonderful opportunities for the broadest training—she starts with a good foundation, for she must be twenty-one years of age and High School graduate.  After entering the school she receives instruction in Anatomy and Physiology, Bacteriology, Chemistry, Nutrition and Cookery, Drugs and Solutions, Materia Medica, History of Nursing, Nursing Principles and Methods, Bandaging, Pathology, Psychology, Ethics, Massage, Nursing in Medical Diseases, Surgical Diseases, Communicable Diseases, and in Diseases of Infants and Children, also special Orthopedic, Gynecological, and Obstetrical Nursing, and Operating Room Technique.

      These subjects are taught by the doctors in the service and they are trained specialists, many of them having been lecturers in other hospitals before entering the Army.  The practical nursing is taught by the graduate nurses, and they represent nearly every training school in the country, hence the student has the great advantage of seeing varied methods.

      The Army School is a new institution, therefore there are no old traditions to live down; the student here has the advantage of being a builder of tradition herself.  It was founded by those who have been managing training schools for years and therefore have selected the best points.

      The student is taught the necessity of coordinating her theoretical knowledge with her work on the wards, of associating symptoms with certain diseases, of noting the action of drugs and the cause or condition warranting their use.

      There is another branch of education in which she is thoroughly instructed, and that is her own physical education.  If you will observe carefully, you will note that nearly every student has the rosy cheeks, clear eyes, and springy gait that denotes good health; her power to resist disease has been increased during her training, and though many of them will deny it, the scales will tell that nearly every girl has added several pounds to her weight.

      The criterion of every system of education as of every bullet is the result, and as the bullets of our soldiers finally resulted in peace, so we hope the system of education in our Army Training School will result in splendid nurses and women who will carry to the world the light from the Florence Nightingale lamp which they wear on their collars.



The Duties and Opportunities of a Student



      The duties for the making of a good nurse are under three heads.

      To the visitor, the student nurse’s duty is apparently stroking the fevered brow and smoothing a pillow, but in reality her first duty is the welfare and comfort of the patient.  This is obtained mainly through absolute cleanliness.  A campaign against dirt is therefore instituted, and the student nurse scrubs both patient and bed to be ready for “Inspection” on Saturday morning.  She should also create an atmosphere of cheer in order to speed up recovery.  The doctor’s orders should be accurately and promptly carried out, and cooperation strived for. 

      The second duty is to gain a high standard and good reputation for the school.  This school is in its infancy and these nurses are pioneers.  The way of   the pioneer is always filled with difficulties, she has the path to clear and the firm foundation to build for those who follow.  Therefore the obligation is doubly binding.

      The third duty is to herself, she must regard he health, appearance, mental development, conduct, and retention of a good disposition.  In order to  achieve her ideal she must be a good woman plus a good nurse.

      It is a great opportunity to be in one of the biggest institutions of the age for the education of nurses.  She is receiving her training under specialized doctors who have come in for the war-time emergency.  The capable graduates pass on their splendid methods and helpful experiences which is another advantage.

      When the course is completed, Miss Goodrich, Dean of the Army School, hopes to have the students go to Washington, D. C., to receive their diplomas from the Surgeon General.  Probably there they will take the Florence Nightingale pledge, which is:




      “I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assemblage to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully.  I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.  I will do all in my power to elevate

the standard of my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping, and all family affairs coming to my knowledge

 in the practice of my calling.  With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.


                        A STUDENT.





Transcribed by Sharon Walford Yost.

Source: ”The History of Letterman General Hospital, Page 30. Published by the Listening Post, Presidio, San Francisco, Cal. 1919.

© 2010  Sharon Walford Yost.