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The First Day on the Wards

Six people at a reception area are talking and handling papers. Four women are wearing nurses' caps.

Student nurses at the nursing station on the surgical floor.


Last night was the night before our first full day on the wards in complete uniform. We were all a little nervous about it and spent the evening doing up each other’s hair, reassuring each other and trying to calm our own nerves.

The next morning I looked over at the hospital and my knees shook. It looked so big – and what would we do for a whole day. All I knew was how to take temperatures. How long would that last?

Getting into uniform took a little longer this morning – those darned pins! My hands seemed to shake and it had to be just right. Maybe after some practice I won’t have to get up at 6:15 a.m. any more.

Well, I made it through the day – barely. How am I going to stand five days a week of this? I feel so tired after only one day. I must have walked miles but I only got into trouble a few times. It’s a good thing the intermediates and seniors were around to help; they seem to know so much.

I wonder if I’ll ever get to be like them???

Student nurse, Class of 1964

Listen to Charlotte, Class of 1969, talk about her first patient.

Audio clip with transcript: Charlotte talks about her first patient.