Anecdotes of Student Nurses at a London Teaching Hospital

by Alison Collin

A student nurse's place:

Jan Spinks remembers ---- the great Miss Hector "There are two sorts of nurses in the world – Barts’ nurses and the rest" ---- and being left in no doubt that if we failed to meet the exacting standard in any way we would be out. We were lucky to be there, and could easily be replaced. So, cleaning the panelling and scrubbing the sinks was to be seen in some way as a privilege!

Adventures at Piggott's:

I soon found myself clambering out of an upstairs window while a couple of burly firemen steadied the rope. It was not like climbing at all because the rock faces in Wales did not have expensive leaded glass windows at the bottom of them and, in my effort not to put my foot through one of these precious panes, I lost control and ended up dangling on the rope with my wretched uniform acting as a very efficient parachute. Below me the firemens’ upturned and grinning faces ----

Early Protheses:

It was in the early days of attempts to get some sort of functioning limbs to help the thousands of children (victims of thalidomide) who had been afflicted, and the mechanics of these devices were crude to say the least. Every day the physiotherapists would come and attach the four limbs which looked as if they had been put together from a Meccano set, being as they were bare metal with various tubes running through them. I cannot remember how the legs functioned, but I have some recollection of them having rockers on the bottom instead of feet and each leg swung forward as the weight was shifted to the other side. However, the arms had metal pincers on the end of them for gripping things ----

Mary Dearden got herself into quite a predicament:

"I remember the coaches that took us back and forth. They would not wait a second beyond the time that they should set off, even if you were just running down the steps. Many a time I would oversleep and wake up just as the bus was about to depart. I remember one morning I pulled on my uniform as far as the dress and stuffed the rest into my basket - running barefoot downstairs and out to the bus. Just made it! Unfortunately, I then found I had forgotten my suspender belt (before tights were invented!) - What to do?"