On June 13, 2019, I celebrated the 50th anniversary of my Nursing School graduation. I attended Milwaukee County General Hospital School of Nursing, a three-year diploma program that I entered after graduating from high school.
I was only 17 when I entered the program, a fact that astonishes me now.
County was a tough school to get into. Competition was high with hundreds applying and about 90 students admitted to my class. I remember the extensive testing and interviews we endured before we found out we had made it.
Some of the tests were math and science-based. One was a psychological test in which we had to choose how we felt about two very different and often very negative concepts. (Hmmm - who would you save in case of a fire - a small child or your much-loved grandmother?).
As part of the psychological test we were asked to draw a person. I drew a stick figure, and at the end of the session noticed another candidate's test. Her very detailed drawing was a woman sitting in a garden with her chin resting on her hand. I felt devastated about my very inferior drawing, but apparently my stick figure passed the test.
I decided to become a nurse because I didn’t want to be a secretary or a teacher and I honestly couldn’t think of many other things I wanted to be. I briefly thought about joining the Peace Corps but read an article that said as a Peace Corps volunteer I might have to kill a chicken, so I decided against it.
I’m not sure why I thought nursing would be easier than killing a chicken, but I was only 17 and I had no idea what nurses actually did. Later though, I found out.