Jeanne Wiley: HRSH Student Nurse

I was in school from September 1972, graduating in December of 1974. We went to school through the summers. The nursing school was being phased out, and the final class graduated in 1977.

Jeanne Wiley

Jeanne Wiley

Oh, so many stories! My favorite memory of the students/patients was from our final semester. We took psychiatric nursing every day: mornings with our patients, and afternoons in the classroom. We were each assigned a patient for psych case study who had outside privileges. Every Wednesday there was a patient “talent” show in the Snow Rehabilitation Building. That was a newer building at the time which had only been open for a couple of years. It had a swimming pool, bowling alley, and a good sized auditorium (used for out capping and graduation ceremonies.) Our class of 25 students would take our assigned patients to the talent show. What fun! There was a lot of actual talent—piano players, singers, dancers, etc., but there were also many “acts” that were patients who tried so hard and thought they were good, but the talent was lacking pretty much. We enjoyed them all.

We had a lot of hands on experience—simple surgeries were performed in the operating room and we could observe. We also had to watch at least one autopsy. The morgue was on the grounds too, and naturally the day our class went to observe, it was summer, no air conditioning and about 90 degrees. Three of the students in the class passed out and it was hard to tell if it was from the heat or seeing the autopsy. (I wasn’t one of them.) We went to Dutchess Community College for non medical courses, and to the nursing school on the grounds for medical classes. We also went to other hospitals for medical training. We had good training in those days. The rules were strict (curfews, house mothers, etc., but it was a wonderful experience, and I made many great friends. We had a lot of fun too.

Also during our senior year, a few of us took our assigned patients to a funeral in the Catholic Church on the grounds. It was very sad. The only time I ever saw a true “plain pine box” coffin. No one else was in the church—just our little group of students and patients. The patient who had died was a friend of one of our patients.

A happier memory was when all of the nursing students and instructors went through the wards singing Christmas Carols on our last day before the holiday. It was sad to think that most of the patients wouldn’t be going home, but it was also touching because they enjoyed hearing us. It was great to be appreciated that way, and not only the patients, but the students would get teary-eyed.

Oh the memories. I could go on and on…

By Jeanne Wiley, HRSH Nursing class of 1974, and website coordinator for the HRSH