Material Information

Our top nurse reviews her career
Jeannie Gibson
Hilda Bowen, 1923-2002 ( Director of Nursing )
Jeannie Isaacs
Place of Publication:
Nassau, Bahamas
Nassau Guardian
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
1 p. : illustrations
Physical Location:
HBL Archives - Hilda Bowen


Subjects / Keywords:
Nurses -- Bahamas -- Biography


Statement of Responsibility:
Jeannie Gibson

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of The Bahamas
Holding Location:
University of The Bahamas
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OUrlOP nurse reviews her career A PRINCIPAL IIAIIAIIL\N NtJII8I!: DlrfleW fll NanJat Bllda Bowa (allove) ...... Old Ia ber protes-Bioll, u -wu tile tint blaek ........ to reacb tile POIIUea fll a ....., aliter at tiW a.u ... Geaeral b011pi&al, .., &lae PriDcea ......... &lpl&al. NU'Ie Bowea -wiMt lau eGidriiMded aaoaw .... 41 yean &o &be publle 11101& ot aae 1a aae ...-Reporter JeiUJIJie Glbsoll _, be-/liDs a two-J;IBrt l'e/ GD tbe 111e aDt1 limes of Directoi ol NUI'Bilul Hilda Bowen. De tJeCOIJd ps_!t wlll""be published next Saturdaj, Sept. IS. By JEANNIE GIBSON The Bahamas bas had no wars, nor has this little coun try eX{M!rienced any maJor epideiDlc. However, in 1ier own way, Director of Bllda &oen can aptly be d& scribed as the Florence Niahtingale of The Ba hamas, 6ecause of her contribution to nursing which contributed to the resent School, West Street, the Western Jumail from home took months at (Shakespeare's birthplace). Nurse nior and Senior Schools and Governtimes, food was rationed and the Bowen says that it was during this ment Hie School. And Nurse Bowen bread was bard and black and meat time that she learnt to appreciate recalls that her years at the was eatmt twice per month, if one classical music, drama, art and Government High School, the institu-was 1uc9. A bath was allowed once sports. tion which bad an enrollment of few-a week iil about six inches of water SINGING IN TONGUES er than 50 students, bad only some and, according to the director, some She spoke nostalgically of a pil-six to eight females. tn fact, she re-of the accommodation was below grimage she took part in to Lourdes, calls thai there were very few opporstandaras accustomed to. France, in ISMS. ThOusands of people tunity for girls in the country at lbis Of the good times, she notes that from many lands gathered with the time. there were many. Among them was sick hoping to be healed at the place Having completed school, she en-an invitation sbe received to attend where 1t is believed the Virgin Mary tered the public service as a teacher at the Royal Garden Party, Buckingappeared to Bernadette, and the di at the Eastern Junior school in 11M2 bam in celebration of ttie rector said that this was the first ex and after three years teaching grade crowniJig of the Queen. perience she bad ever had of well one students, she was given 1lie op-Then fbere was the attendance at known hymns being sung in so many portunity to pursue the career of her lecturei and talks on numerous topdifferent tongues. 1 The whole event Choice. lea, vistts to hospitals and bealth-rewas interesllilg bu, she noted that a Hilda Bowen became the first perfated_ There were visits candlelight procession was impres son to be selected by The Babalnas to bistprical places and buildings sive and therefore even more note government to undertake nursing in tbrouglout the United Kiudom and worthy. the United Kingdom under the COlo-including Rome, ftaly, and "Despite everything, there are Dial Scholarship scheme to develop ntfol .oa-Avon, UDlted XU.dom (Oil Page 7, Col. I) Of course, she bad been eligible to obtain entry for nurse training at the Bahamas General Hospital. Howev er, as the local training at the time was not on par with wbat it is today, the idea of studying locally was not met Mth much enthusiasm. EDUCATIONALLY ENRICHED Therefore, in 1946, Hilda Bowen, Mth the career she desired to follow in sumt, said goodpbye to her parents and felt The Bahamas for the United Kiudom. She was not going to see Tbe Bahamas, her family or friends for a number of years. When she re turned home, however, she was going to be educationally enriched. Now as Nurse Bowen looks back on the whole matter of leavinl home, she recalls the excitement cil being given such an opportunity. She was one of the first Bahamian women to be allowed the opportunity to study in the United KiQdom and she was to meet people from all over the world and compile a treasury of ex periences. Nurse Bowen's first stage of train ing was done at the Firnboroue General Hospital, Kent, where s6e undertook the three-year basic nurse education programme and obtained the state RegiStered Nurse qualifica tion in 1950. GETS BRONZE BUCKLE Her interest was also in the field of ophthalmic (eye) She was keenly interested in belpmg persons Mth eye problems and therefore this interest led to her acceptance at the world renowned Moorfield's Eye Hospital, London, where she was awarded the Bronze Buckle as the most post-graduate nurse of the year m 1951. ADd in or der for a to obtain a nlll'SinJ[ sister post in The Bahama, midwW ery qualifications were Therefore, further studieS became necessary and Miss Bowen continued her education for this in Scotland. completion of training at the Elsie Inglis Maternity Jlospital an Stirlillg Royal .lnfirinally ,-the State Certified Midwi!e qualification w obtained. Miss Bowen states among higbliPts of her studies receiv tbe llronze Buckle Award for: Nurse Hilda Bowen (From Page 8) many appy memories of good friends who treated one as a mem ber of the family creating relationships that can never be severed," she sa:ys. And after siX f-ears of study, Hilda Bowen was qualified and ready to re turn home to give her service to her country. In 1952, when she wrote of her intentions of returning bome1 however, the replies she receivea from health authorities were neg ative and all sorts of excuses were found, such as no vacancies and more experience being necessary. Miss Bowen was determined to re turn home, however. Therefore, she wrote the then Governor of The Baba mas, who took the necessary steps and one year later she returned home to The Bahamas, where she was destined to make a mark on the nursing profession in The Bahamas and somewhat revolutionize the de livery of health care on these is lands.


Affil we get it from tbeborse's mouth, so to speak, that nursing is not the glamorous profession many people believe it to be. The job is very demanding, though cballeoging. So what made a blaci educated Ba hamian woman seek such a profes sion? Says Nurse Bowen simply, "Love of people." And yes, this re mark might sound trite to many. However, almost anyone who b8s had dealings with Nurse Bowen will find no trouble believing in the sin-NURSING SISTER So despite all the odds, Hilda Bo-1 wen went abroad and studied to be come a nurse. Not only did she qual-ify herself as a nurse but she \\. excelled and upon returning to the .. Bahamas she became the first black Bahamian woman to don the garb of a nursing sister at the Princess Mar garet Hospital, then the Bahamas General Hospital. Now, however, some 30 years later, primarily through the untiring efforts of Nurse DEDICATED NURSE The nurs ing profession Is not glamorous and those entering It must be totally dedicated. This is the contention of Nurse Hilda Bowen, Director of Nursing. Nurse Bowen has ded Icated her Ufe to her career, pursu ing studies abroad and returning home to contribute her services to her country. Above she lovingly holds a baby outside the Stirling Royal lnftrmary, Scotland where she received the State Certified Midwife qualiftcation. *