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The Probies: “Congratulations Little Sister!”

16 smiling women in nurses' uniforms sitting and standing for a formal photo.

Capping ceremony class photo.

Probationers will please come with sufficient railway fare to return home if not accepted.

Excerpt from Women’s College Hospital
School of Nursing welcome letter, 1927

New students were introduced to nursing in the classroom during a probationary term. It lasted three to five months. Probationers were fondly referred to as “probies.” The nursing probies learned about hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and basic nursing techniques.

A paper doll of a nurse holds an invitation.

Probie party invitation.

During this term, the hospital superintendent checked each student’s “general fitness for the nursing profession.” Only those young women who were seen as good nursing candidates were officially accepted by the school. The others were sent home.

To help the probies through their first days and weeks of training, each new arrival was assigned a Big Sister. It was a great responsibility and privilege to be a Big Sister. She provided guidance, emotional support and motivation to her Little Sister.

To officially mark the end of the probationary term, probies were presented with nurses’ caps at a small capping ceremony in the backyard of the hospital. Big Sisters held the responsibility of “capping” their Little Sisters.

Two smiling women outside, in nurses' uniforms.

Capping ceremony.