This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
H: This is the first recording session of the oral history of Jennet Wilson, a founding
faculty member of the College of Nursing at the University of Florida. It is Sunday,
February 7, 1993. We are sitting in the living room of her villa at the Villages of
West End, 1032 NW 124th Drive, Newberry, Florida. My name is Betty Hilliard, and
I am the interviewer.
What I thought we could do first is to have you tell me a little bit about your
background, particularly your career in nursing--what made you go into nursing,
where you studied, and where you have practiced. Give me just an overview, first of
all. Then [I would like you to discuss] what happened to make you interested in the
University of Florida and that program, because the approaches to nursing
education down here were really ..
W: They were revolutionary. [laughter]
H: [Yes], they were very [revolutionary]. They were put in grave opposition to the run-
of-the-mill nursing education of the 1950s and 1960s.
H: So I thought maybe we could talk a little bit about how you saw these as being
important to nursing.
W: Well to begin with, Betty, I grew up during the Depression. Of course my goal was
to go to college and to be a physical education teacher. But with salaries and jobs
the way they were we did not have the money for that, so I had to select something
else. At that point in time--this was 1936--there were very few opportunities for
women to earn a decent living except in teaching, which required some college
preparation, or nursing. At that time nursing was housed mainly in hospital schools.
Since there was a hospital close by with a very good reputation, my parents took
me over there, and I was enrolled. It might be interesting [to note that] the
enrollment fee was fifty dollars.
Anyway, after three years of what we might call slave labor in those days ..
H: Students really were exploited, were they not?
W: They really were. We worked ten hours a day, six days a week, and on the seventh
day we worked three hours.
H: On the seventh day we rested.
W: Oh, you did? You were lucky! [laughter] We had to work three hours in the
But anyway, after that I decided to get a job. I went through an ad in the American
Journal of Nursing; they had opportunities at the city hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
So I applied along with one of my classmates and we went down there. We found it
very interesting because at that time Johns Hopkins pretty much ran the city
hospital, so we had very good medical care. My supervisor was a Hopkins
graduate; of course that was very interesting.
Anyway, after three years there the war broke out, and I felt a need to get into the
service, since I had no obligations. So I enlisted in the navy nurse corps and was
shipped off to Portsmouth, Philadelphia, Idaho ..
H: Idaho? In the navy?
W: In the navy on a lake. [I] finally ended up in San Francisco, and then I got out. But
the thing that was most rewarding in that, of course besides caring for the returning
navy people, was that the GI Bill accompanied it which gave us the opportunity to go
to college if we wanted to. I was not quite ready for college when I got out of the
navy. I wanted to sort of just look around and see what was out there. I went back
to the city hospital in Baltimore and I noticed that my replacements were always
people with degrees. I would be a head nurse, and then the next thing you know
somebody else would come in with a degree, and they would be put ahead of me.
H: What year was this?
W: This was about in 1945 or 1946. [It was] right after the war.
H: That is interesting that there was that much interest in academically prepared
nursing at that early time.
W: Yes it was, because there were not that many [nurses].
H: No, or places where they would go.
W: Right. Well, they were looking for people with degrees to be supervisors and [to be]
in charge of departments and that sort of thing.
H: That really said something about that hospital--that they placed that much
importance on education in nursing.
W: Yes, because as I said, that was pretty early on in the area of where nurses were
getting degrees. So I finally decided [that] if I wanted to get anywhere in nursing I
had better go on to school. I applied to several schools and was accepted at Duke
University. I went there thinking that [in] another year or two I would have a degree.
The first day I got there I was interviewed and they said, "This is what you will take
the first year, and this is what you will take the second year, and this is what you will
take the third year." [laughter] So after three years of very, very, very fine and
interesting educational courses I graduated from Duke with a bachelor of science in
Of course, by that time I was just taken by the university. I did not want to leave, so
I applied for a position there as an instructor--I think [that is what] they called us at
that time--in their School of Nursing. I taught there for three years. Again, I was
seeing people come in with master's degrees and taking over jobs that I thought I
was qualified for in terms of experience.
H: Now it was the master's degree that was important.
W: Now it was the master's degree that pushed me. So I applied for another
scholarship at Columbia University, and I made that and went up to New York for a
year, along with another friend who was in cardiac nursing. By that time I had
gravitated to maternity. I went there and studied under another fine group of [nurse]
practitioners and teachers.
The philosophy at that time at Teachers College was that to teach you had to
practice. This was quite different from some of the other schools where the
academics were given high priority over practice. So we had lots of practice while
we were at Columbia. We studied at the New York Cornell Medical Center and Yale
H: You went up to grace New Haven as part of that [program]?
W: Yes. I had a whole summer in New Haven. Anyway, it was a very interesting
course that we took.
H: Let's back up a little. When I was at Duke as a student I met a woman [named]
Dorothy Smith, who was teaching a course in the principles and practice of teaching.
I really enjoyed this woman's methods of teaching and her ideas about nursing and
how you get students to learn. So while I was at Columbia I heard that Dorothy had
been offered a deanship at the University of Florida to open a new school of nursing,
a college of nursing at that point. That sort of intrigued me, because I thought, If this
woman is going to head up a program, she will incorporate some of her ideas. So I
sent a letter off with a resume to her.
Within about two or three weeks I got a letter back that said, "We are not hiring
people right now, but your letter is on file. As soon as I get the OK to start hiring
faculty I will contact you." So I kept looking [at] other places, but nothing seemed to
be the same. Even a letter from Honolulu did not thrill me. [laughter]
H: Imagine that!
W: Imagine! I thought, "No, that is not what I want." Anyway, shortly after that I got a
letter saying "You have been accepted, and you are to come here in the fall." This
was 1956, I think. Then I got another letter that said, "Sorry, that was incorrect; you
will not be hired until the fall of 1957." So there was a year I had to put up some
kind of a professional enrichment kind of thing.
I had an opportunity to go to the University of Massachusetts to teach their course in
maternity nursing because they only had a few students and they did not have
enough money to hire somebody year-round. They were [only] taking people for
short-term. So I went up there and taught there for three months, and I had a very
interesting experience. I opened a rooming-in unit and fought with all the medical
and other nursing personnel [over the fact] that mothers and babies should be
together, which was a revolutionary idea.
H: It really was.
W: I got that down at Duke; they had rooming-in down there.
H: And certainly when you went to grace New Haven.
W: Oh right, with Ernestine Wiedenbach [R.N., M.A., C.N.M., Associate Professor of
Maternal and Newborn Health, Yale University] and all that. Oh, yes. You did not
realize when you were going through things, how important they [were, or how they]
would shape your ideas.
Anyway, after I taught there I decided to find out what was open in this area in
Florida [so] that I could come down here and get situated before I took my job.
H: They were not ready for rooming-in, I will tell you that.
W: No, they were not ready for rooming-in; they were not really ready for much. So I
did not want to go to the local hospital. Somehow that just did not appeal to me,
because they still had separate units for the blacks and the whites. [They had]
separate nurseries and everything, and that was really another area that I was
opposed to. So I wrote to the health department and they said, "We would be glad
for you to come on our staff." So I came to Florida in February 1957 and went to
work at the Alachua County Health Department. That was one of the best things I
have ever done, because I learned the culture of rural Alachua County, which is
where a lot of our patients came from when we opened Shands [Teaching Hospital].
Also, they were kind enough to orient me to the whole state health system. I went
to Chattahoochee for a week, and I went to Miami, and I went [to other places.]
H: I did not know you did those things.
W: Yes. I went to Chattahoochee for a week to see how they ran that. I went down to
Miami to a premature unit that they had just opened. Oh, I traveled all around; I
went to all the conferences that were being held in both pediatrics and obstetrics. [I
spent what] was a very interesting six months there, from February till August.
H: That preemie unit down there in Miami was quite famous, as I remember.
W: Yes, it was.
H: [Did you say] they offered continuing education courses?
W: That is right, they did. It was very interesting.
H: That was a wonderful six months.
W: It was. It was really one of the best decisions I had made. Of course the people in
that health department were very kind and very generous. I had a little district out in
Hawthorne. Well [it was] not quite into Hawthorne; it was Cross Creek and Island
H: Was this before or after Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings?
W: It was after. I used to pull up across the road from her house and eat my lunch
H: Imagine that!
W: Yes. There was a big tree that was spread out over the road, and I would take my
lunch and pull up under there and just eat my lunch and look at her house and think
about her. [laughter] It was kind of fun.
It was also very interesting because I did get to know a lot of those people very
closely. I could visit them as often as they would allow me to, and in that way I got
to hear a lot of the ideas, [and I got to hear] a lot of the culture of that group of
people. Fishing was probably their main source of income. They fished on Orange
Lake and Lochloosa [Lake], and places like that. I would go by there in the morning,
and they would have these big tubs of catfish that they had caught during the night.
They always wanted to give me a fish to take home. [laughter] Of course I would
say, "I cannot do that because I have to make my rounds all day, and the fish would
not be very good."
H: Can you imagine what they would be like by nighttime?
W: So I would come out sometimes and find a watermelon in the back of my car;
Whatever they were growing at that point, they would put in the car. So they were
really very, very, very fine people, and very appreciative of someone that would sit
down and listen to them. Of course, I could do that since I had a small number of
Finally, we went to teach at Shands Teaching Hospital at the University of Florida. I
think there were four or five of us that started on the same day. Some of the things
that happened were kind of interesting, but also frightening. I remember getting a
letter from Dorothy saying, "We are about to open the library. Would you please
send a list of books you would like in the library?" Now, I had never ordered books
for a library from day one. [laughter] I had requested books here and there--one
that I wanted or something--but here was a whole section that I was supposed to fill
with nursing books on maternity. That sort of threw me, because I did not quite
know what [all of the] kinds of books [were] that I would want.
H: You did not have the same easy reference to a lot of titles, either.
W: No, we did not. There were no computer databases [where] you could push a
button and it would come out with a printout, or any of that. You really had to search
H: Or [you had to] ask people what they liked, I suppose.
W: Yes, and I went around. I am trying to remember. I wrote to several schools and
asked them if they could send me a bibliography of some of their coursework. That
way I could get names of books that I might not have come across myself. But it
was kind of a responsibility that had never popped up before. I had always worked
where the library was established. Anyway, we did collect a fair number of books. I
am sure there are some that nobody ever opened, but they were there if anybody
would want them.
We got there the first day, and we were each assigned an office. Again, [this] was
something I had never had before--an office of my own. At Duke we shared it with
the supervisor, and up in Massachusetts I do not think I even had a shelf or
something. I am not sure. Anyway, I walked in the office, and there on my desk
was a red rosebud with a welcome note from the dean. I thought, "This is really the
place to work."
H: Wasn't that nice?
W: Isn't that nice? What a nice thought, because it really made you feel welcome and
that she appreciated your coming there. That was the atmosphere of the whole
school which I think drew people here, kept them here, and helped them to produce
the best that they could. You always felt like you were appreciated and you always
wanted to do better.
The first couple years of the college was something that I would hope all young
teachers would have a chance to be involved in, because it was really a time of
cooperation and recognition. I do not think people knew the fact that the College of
Nursing at that time interviewed the heads of the Department of Medicine for jobs.
H: Isn't that interesting?
W: Yes. I remember when they were looking for a head of the Department of Medicine
in Obstetrics. They brought in several doctors. All of them came, and I interviewed
them. I do not know if my reports meant anything, but it gave you a feeling that you
were a part of the whole [J. Hillis Miller] Health Center. Then sometimes if it were
somebody they really wanted, we would have a dinner out at Cedar Key at the
Island Hotel and the whole College of Nursing and the College of Medicine and all
the other people of any importance in the health center would go out there. We
would have a huge dinner out there. Miss Bessie had put on her finest. It was just
an atmosphere [that] you cannot replace [or] describe. It is something that you had
to live through.
H: The people in the College of Medicine [also] shared the same kind of philosophy
W: That is right. In the beginning Dorothy and George Harrell [dean, College of
Medicine] and Russ Poor, who was the provost [of the health center], had meetings
over and over when there was nothing here. They were just sitting up in a Quonset
hut on campus planning the whole health center. They met and they had made
these decisions about how they wanted the health center to operate and the
atmosphere [they wanted] and so forth. They were able to stick to that for many,
many years. But as the place grew it was harder and harder to hold onto that and
we got more political, which changed the whole face of the health center, really. I
am not saying it is bad, good, or whatever, but it was just the way things were.
I remember it was decided there could be no rounds at meal times; if patients were
having their meals there could be no rounds by the physicians. The [physicians]
could not go into a room and examine a patient while they were eating or take their
tray away, because the staff as well as the patients were involved in feeding. Staff
would feed the patients or the patients would eat by themselves. That was an
innovative idea, because [at] any other hospital that you worked in, the physician
walked in and said, "I want to examine Mrs. Jones." And whatever Mrs. Jones was
doing had to wait.
H: I wonder if they are still doing that at Shands.
W: I do not think so. [laughter]
H: I do not either.
W: I do not know that they could. I think [some] things have changed a little [and] some
[have changed] a lot. Anyway, the whole concept of hospitalization has changed.
You come to get what is wrong with you taken care of, and you go home to
recuperate or do whatever. You do not stay in the hospital like they used to.
The students came in in 1956 or 1957--1 cannot remember. Our first class
graduated in 1960, so I guess they came in 1956. Their whole first year was taken
up mostly with campus courses, and one nursing course. Then their second year
was, I guess, another nursing course. The third year they came into the clinical
areas. So we sat out the first year because we did not have any students ready to
take our course. What we did that year was plan our coursework and work in local
hospitals and doctor's offices with the faculty so we could get some idea of what [we
could do to prepare our students]. We did not have a [teaching] hospital at that
time; Shands was going up right in front of our eyes as we sat there and planned our
H: It must have been interesting for the students who were enrolled in the college and
were up on campus, knowing that the hospital was being built and that they were
going to be able to learn and to practice there.
W: Right. It was very interesting. Anyway, we finally got the coursework all outlined
and [we determined] the sites we were going to use (which was Alachua General)
for the practice of maternity and pediatrics. At that point we were teaching both
courses. Then we got a group of offices where the students could see the prenatal
patient and also a groups of pediatricians where they could see the common
illnesses of children that are just brought to the doctor's office. Virginia Strozier
[assistant professor of nursing] and I worked on that for a year and got it all
The day came when we had our first class. I do not know who was more nervous--
the students or us--because it was such a long time between the planning stage and
putting it into practice. [laughter] We had about forty students in that first group that
were split between medical/surgery and obstetrics. So we had about twenty
students that we had to get through the program. It was most interesting. Faculty
meetings were exciting, [and] we had so many decisions to make as a group and as
a section. We were not big enough for departments, so Dorothy divided the school
into sections of common interest. The pediatric and the maternity group sort of met
together as a section, and the medical-surgical group [met as a section]. [She
divided us into] those kinds of sections, and we made decisions on that level. Then
we took those [decisions] to the faculty meeting where we would discuss [them] as a
total faculty, and come up with solutions. I can remember there were times--and
you remember this, too--when we could not come to a decision in our own unit, and
we would be sent back to the drawing board to come up with a decision that was
unanimous. The thought there was that if everybody would not agree to what was
being decided, it would not fly. It would be more of a hindrance than any kind of a
help, so we had to hammer out the differences until we came up with an agreement.
And I think that helped to move the school ahead.
As you remember, our whole philosophy of practice was very different from most
schools. We cut down on the number of hours, but there was a purpose every time
you went on a unit. Sections where decisions were made went to the faculty to be
sure that they would be fitted into the overall plan. Something else that is interesting
about those early years is the way faculty always had some responsibility for
improving practice on the units, [like] the way the nurse Ils (head nurses) and the
section chairmen worked together.
W: Yes; that was an innovative idea, and I think Dorothy got a lot of flack from that
decision because she had a dual role: she was head of nursing service at Shands
hospital and head of the college. Then all of us that were hired had a dual role: We
were chairman of the section, and we had the responsibility for the level of practice
in our units. That meant that you had to work with the staff down on the unit where
your students were. Now, that was not very difficult when you had a really good
staff, which we managed to get together. We had an excellent staff down on the
third floor, which is mostly where we practiced. When the third floor staff had a
meeting we would go to that. Do you remember going to those? And we had a say
in it. When the section would meet on academics the staff members would come to
that and have a say-so as to how they saw student education going in their unit. It
was a shared kind of responsibility.
H: That was very exciting to me when I came, to get into that. Do you remember [if] the
aides also had a say?
W: Oh yes, they were very important because they were the first line of patient care.
They were the ones that were with the patients a lot more than some of the nursing
staff was because they did a lot of the care for the mothers and babies.
H: Was it not Bessie Banks who came to one of the meetings and said she thought
there ought to be conferences for nursing mothers?
W: Yes, I think she was, and that is how it got started, is it not? Well, Bessie was an old
mama herself, and I guess she realized what they needed. But I think some of
those nursing aides that we had were excellent people at picking up needs of our
H: I do too.
W: And [they fulfilled] needs on their own. I remember them saying, "We have to review
procedures once in a while," because they would see some of the aides doing
something that was not the way it was supposed to be done. And so we reviewed
procedures; we would have a discussion and then we would have a practice session
with the aides in whatever it was they were supposed to be learning or reviewing. In
the same way, when we were talking about students being on the unit, they would
tell us things that we did not know about the students in general (not specific ones).
I tell you what it was: it was kind of a classless society. There was not the "I am this
and you are this" kind of a situation. Everybody felt some responsibility for the
overall care of patients and students. And I think the students felt cared for.
H: I do too.
W: I think they really did. We met with our students as groups and individually. We had
[one] conference a week with them. Do you remember that? We scheduled [one]
conference a week. They would come in, and we would sit there [while] they would
cry or do whatever it was they were supposed to do. [laughter] But it was very
close contact [between the students and instructors]. And when you had students
on the unit, you were on the unit. You were not somewhere else. And chances are
you knew the patients from your own practice sometimes.
H: That was the other thing that was important to me when I came--that practice was
expected. You could go down on that unit and feel free to take care of patients.
That was not done in many schools of nursing.
W: No. I remember going to a conference--I do not know whether it was the National
League for Nursing or what--but I was eating with a group, and they were saying
things like, "Gosh, if I could just get over there and see what occurs on that unit
before I take my students." I said, "Well, why don't you just go over and practice a
while?" [And they said] "Ahhhh! We don't have practice privileges. The only time
we can walk on that unit is when we take a student on."
H: That is true, and that was so unfortunate.
W: I thought, "My heavens! I'm glad I'm not there."
H: I think that probably is still happening in some places.
W: It probably is, but it certainly is not the ideal way to teach, because if you do not
practice for a week you are out of it. [laughter] We had practice privileges. That
was one of the things Dorothy fought for when she came here; the faculty had to
have faculty privileges to practice. The physicians all had it, and we needed the
same things. It was interesting.
Of course we then got into all kinds of activities like classes for nursing mothers, and
classes for the labor patient, or the prenatal patient. It just developed into a huge
network of care for patients.
H: Those years--the 1950s and 1960s--were very exciting years in maternity care
because of the groups that were telling us that we needed to have prenatal classes,
that we needed to develop techniques for support during labor, that we needed to
have parenting classes and that [we needed to have that] kind of follow-through and
rooming-in. All of those things that were happening were exciting, but it did develop
W: Yes it did, because I remember when we were at Columbia one of the experiences
that our teacher arranged for us was to go to a class with Vera Keane [B.S., R.N.,
C.N.M., Instructor-Supervisor of OB-GYN Nursing, Cornell University]--[to one of]
her prenatal classes.
H: I bet that was interesting.
W: It was very interesting. Anyway, she told us that one of the complications written by
a physician on the patients' charts would state, "Attended the prenatal classes."
That was the complication: They had learned too much and that spoiled the whole
H: For instance, they could not be knocked out.
W: That is right. That always stuck in my mind, that at one point what we were doing--
instead of being helpful--was counted as a complication.
H: For quite some time.
H: We really had to fight--"we" meaning nurses in general--to change that attitude
W: I remember having to hide that book by Grantly Dick Reid. I had it on my desk.
H: You had to hide it?
W: Yes. When I was at Duke they did not approve of him. I [once] had it on my desk
and was looking at it for something, and one of the physicians came by and stopped
in. I sort of stuck it under some material on my desk so he would not see it.
[laughter] The delivery room nurse [also] had it out, and they took it away saying,
"You do not want to read this."
H: Isn't that interesting? That was at Duke?
W: That was at Duke at that point. We later got a resident who had been involved in
that. Oh, he got a lot of flack. He put in a [sound] system. We had records, and we
could p lay music for our labor patients to help them relax. Oh, you had to ask
permission if you could play records while some of them had their patients in there,
because they did not think that was going to help them with anything.
H: That is sad.
W: It was sad, but that is the way it was. It is interesting to see [how things have
changed]. I think one of the biggest movements was to have the mother and baby
together as much as they wanted to be. Do you remember here when we had a
hard time trying to get it established, and then one of the women pediatricians had a
baby? They tried to take it out of her room, and she would not let them.
H: I do remember.
W: The baby did not die and the mother did not die, so from then on we had a little
easier time of it. [laughter]
H: There was another mother who had chicken pox.
W: Right, and she had her baby with her.
H: That is right. It kind of proved that you could do this.
W: Right. When we opened, everything was on the third floor; all the patients in Shands
hospital were on the third floor.
H: That was the hospital.
W: That was the hospital--the third floor. The labor and delivery area was maternity.
Our patients were in the labor rooms after they delivered; they would just stay in the
labor room. I guess we had a nursery open around the corner. The original
preemie nursery that was that first room was open, I think, and that is where we kept
the babies. Then the rest of the place was medical/surgery, pediatrics, and
H: I remember when I came, there were GYN [gynecology] patients on the postpartum
W: Oh, were they?
H: That was something very interesting to me because I had never been anyplace
where you could mix any other kind of patients with maternity patients.
W: Yes, I remember thinking that when they started putting the GYN patients on that
H: There would be infection all over the place.
W: That is right. [There was a risk that] everybody--mothers and babies--would just be
infected. But it never happened as far as I know.
H: It never happened.
W: Of course, within a matter of a year or two we outgrew a lot of what we had planned.
I know the preemie unit had to be renovated and moved because we outgrew that
right away; we had so many small babies.
H: It was not a good place for the preemie nursery anyway, right there at the entrance.
W: No. How many times did we write a proposal to move that thing? Audrey [Urquhart,
R.N., M.S.N., supervisor, OB-GYN, Shands] and I would write it, and it would just go
through the crack in the floor somewhere. We never did get it moved until they
really needed more space. And then they did [move it].
H: Another thing that was interesting about that third floor was the little apartment.
W: Oh yes, we had an apartment. We could put a mother and baby in there together.
Did the daddy stay there too?
H: I think so.
W: I think so; I think he could stay there.
H: There was a little kitchen and a bath.
W: Yes, and they could sort of just get used to the idea of keeping house and keeping a
baby at the same time. We would put them in there for a day or two before they
H: If there was somebody that really needed it [they could use it] so they still had the
support of the staff.
W: Right. Well, some of those new mothers and daddies need it, particularly in a
community where so many of the patients were students away from home, and
relatives that usually could help were miles away. So that was interesting. I had
H: One of the things that bothered me some when I came was I did not think there was
enough time for practice. That was a real conflict back in those days--how much is
W: Well, I remember the day we got the edict. A lot of the ideas in the college came
down directly from Dorothy Smith in the beginning. Virginia and I were planning, of
course. We were to have twenty hours. How many did we end up with? Twelve
hours a week?
H: I do not remember now. I cannot believe I would have forgotten that, because it was
W: I do not [remember] either, but I think we had planned for twenty hours. And we got
this edict that [our hours] would be cut down to sixteen, or twelve, or some weird
number. I remember the two of us just flew down to the office and went in there and
just said, "We cannot do this with the amount of time [given]." And Dorothy said,
"There is no argument. That is the way it has to be. You have to figure out what to
do with those twelve or fourteen hours," (whatever it was).
H: See that was very smart, because you and I both came from hospital training
schools where all you did was work, to try and change that habit and use hours the
way they ought to be used for education.
W: Yes. Like how many times do you have to make a bed to know how to make it?
H: That is right.
W: Or [how many times do you have to] do any procedure [to know it]? The important
thing is the contact with patients--learning how to relate, [how to] find out the
[patient's] need, and [how to] do something about it.
H: That is right.
W: You do not do that by practicing bed-making for sixteen hours a week.
H: She was really very much ahead of her time.
W: She was; she still is. Anyway, that was something, to try to justify the few hours that
you had on the unit as being enough. That is why it was very important that faculty
be right there with them so that the student did not go a whole hour without having
something that was really important for her to learn. [We would do] that, and [then
we would] set up the objectives and evaluate them. Remember how we used to
have to do that?
H: I do. Behavioral objectives.
W: [We would give the students] behavioral objectives, and then evaluate them on how
well they accomplished them. It was the stuff you learned when you were doing
your coursework in how to teach and all, but I had never seen anybody actually
doing it. I guess they might have done it behind closed doors somewhere--I do not
know. But I do not remember a teacher ever giving me a set of objectives.
H: Me either.
W: But we had to do that; part of our syllabus was the objectives.
H: Do you remember also--this was later--when we sat down and developed a set of
objectives for the patients?
W: Yes. Was that when Vera was here, or Ernestine, or one of those?
H: It might have been. But I know that for the clinic, for the labor room, for postpartum
and for mother-baby we had a list of objectives that we expected to meet for the
patient. The patient will have a chance to have a newborn evaluation done at her
W: That was an interesting way to evaluate how well you were doing.
H: That is right, but it was perfectly logical, I thought.
W: Oh, yes.
H: If you could do it for your students you could do it for your patients, too.
W: Right. Did the patients see those objectives?
H: They all had copies of them.
W: So they could ..
H: [They could] tell us if they were not being met, and if there was something that we
were not doing.
W: Yes. They could also decide what they were going to get; they had some
expectations of what they were going to get when they were a patient. I think a lot
of people today do not know what to expect when they get into a hospital.
H: No [they do not].
W: I think the nursing history had revolutionized our practice too, [by] taking that
information about a patient and finding out their background and [finding out] what
they were like.
H: [Nurses were] able to shape the [patients'] care somewhat, based on what they
knew the [patients] were bringing with them.
H: That made a lot of sense.
W: And [you] evaluated that every day; you had your objectives, and did you
H: That nursing history is probably what started our sets of objectives with patients, as I
W: Do you remember the day that the GYN patient came in? She was previously
admitted, so we had all her history. We filed those because they were not allowed
to be on the chart. So we took them off before we sent them down to the Record
Room. We had a box in the back of the nurses station. When we heard this patient
was coming in we pulled her old history, and we saw that the day she was admitted
was her birthday. We called the kitchen, and her supper tray had a birthday cake on
it. She just sat there and cried because she did not think anybody was going to
remember her birthday, and there was the birthday cake on her tray.
H: I do not remember that. Wasn't that nice?
W: It was. There were some nice things that came out of there. I remember another
patient that was allergic to plastic. We used to have those plastic sheets on the
beds, and she was readmitted. Before she got into bed she said, "Oh, I cannot get
in there; I am allergic to plastic." They said, "Oh, that is all taken care of." We had
put a bath blanket between the plastic and her sheet, and she was amazed at the
kind of care that was being given. Those were just [two examples of the kinds of
things we used to do]. I mean, they are not important in terms of [the patient's
medical care]; the patient is going to get well without all that stuff. But it really set
the tone of what it must feel like to be cared for when you are in that vulnerable
situation of a hospital.
W: I think that all stems from the beginning that we had, [where we were taught] that
everybody is important; every individual is important, and you have to let them know.
I think this is not possible today. I mean, it is not being done. People just feel like
they are being both students and patients. I think they feel like they are on an
H: We are very lucky to have had that experience in those early years, because as you
say it may not be possible to do that [today].
W: It may not; I have no idea.
H: I think all of us, if we went out into another setting, would try. But it would be more
W: It would be more difficult, but it is so ingrained in how we feel and think that I am
sure it would come through. In our clinics that we ran patients felt cared for and
H: And they came back.
W: They came back.
H: They did not skip appointments.
W: They called if they could not make it, and that was an unheard of thing--for a patient
to try to let us know that she could not get to clinic. We just assumed that so many
would not come, and that was it. But they learned so much.
H: That was a fun time, wasn't it, when we started Carver Clinic?
W: Oh, I'll say. That was just one of the greatest.
H: That, again, was something that had never been done.
H: I am sure that people were looking at us and wondering who in the world we were
that we thought we could go out and do that.
W: Exactly. I know there were some people at Shands that thought so. But I remember
we would be practically working in the dark back there with those curtains drawn
around us. The ceiling light would be on the other side of the curtain.
H: Those were kind of unfortunate [curtains]. Do you remember they were tie-dyed? It
was in the years of tie-dying, and they were dark green.
W: Oh my, [they were] terrible! But they served a purpose--they did give privacy. But I
remember Mattie [Snyder, chief nurse of Maternal-Infant Care Project. This project
had maternity clinics in rural counties of north Florida, staffed by college medical
residents, medical students and public health officials] coming in there and saying,
"Where are you? Where are you?" [laughter] She could not see back in the corner
where we were working. But it was the start. I will always thank Dr. Daley [Acting
Chairman, OB-GYN Department of the College of Medicine] for that. He is the one
who trusted us and had faith in our ability to do that. He said, "Go ahead. Tell me
what patients you want." I said, "These are the ones." I think we took out about
eighteen or twenty in the first batch. And he said, "Go to it."
H: Do you remember the resident or two that came over to the clinic and tried to run it,
and found out that they really did not have any role over there at all? [laughter]
W: I remember one wanted to do his research there, and we told the patients that
unless they signed the paper, the [residents] were not allowed to do research on
them. [So] none of the [patients] would sign the paper. [laughter] So the [residents]
did not get to do the research. I think if they had come in and explained it, and had
not tried to walk over them, the [patients] might have [participated].
H: They tried to tell us what to do and [they tried] to take charge. It was not their fault.
W: No. They were brought up like that; that is the way it was.
H: And there were not any other nurses that were doing this sort of thing that we were
doing, so it was not their fault.
W: No. But it really was an interesting time to be able to live and practice when
changes of such magnitude were going on. Heavens, now a lot of people are doing
H: But this was [very early]. When did we start that?
W: That was in the early, early 1970s.
H: "Nurse practitioner" was a word that people were beginning to recognize, but they
really had not developed programs.
W: Well, that was one of the reasons that I wanted that clinic--because we were getting
interns. The graduates were starting a six-month internship and I thought, "Where in
the world are they going to see nurses practice independently?"
H: [It was because of] the way they were being taught.
W: I thought the future would be that nurses could do this.
H: Those interns were probably among the first nurse practitioners in the country.
W: When the practitioner act came out [Advanced Nurse Practice Act, mid-1970s,
created an advanced category of nursing in many specialty areas. Educational and
clinical requirements were set up, including certification by specialty boards] we
went through the curriculum they had studied, and we sent it in. They got immediate
certification without having to take anything else. So they were in the program,
whatever we had. It was designed with a lot of the doctors that worked at the
infirmary. They used to go over there one or two days a week and work with some
of the GYN patients; they worked in the clinic downstairs a little bit.
H: And you had an obstetrician working closely with you so that, as a team, they were
getting both the nursing input and the physician's input (the medical side).
W: Yes, they had classes with them the same as I would have. Remember [how] our
own education was that the physician would come in and tell us about the disease,
and then the nurse would come in and tell us how to take care of it? This is not the
way it was at this point. It just was quite different in terms of the content of classes.
H: What you were doing was shaping a new role for maternity nurses.
W: Right. I cannot remember the name of that young physician that was in our
obstetrics department that was so good with them. My, he spent hours teaching
them. He was tall.
H: This is Sunday, February 28, 1993. We are beginning tape two of Jennet Wilson's
oral history. We thought we might start this one by going back to fill in and elaborate
a little bit more on the things that we were talking about on the first tape.
W: Well, I have been thinking about that ever since I listened to the first tape, and there
were some areas that I think would be of interest to anyone who was collecting
histories of the college. One of them was the space that was allocated to the
College of Nursing. When the dean [Dorothy Smith] came here they had given hera
little space down on the first floor of the medical science building. It had two little
cubby holes attached to it, and that was supposed to be for her faculty. Of course
that was not satisfactory, because she needed a room for her secretary, and each of
us had to have a certain amount of space. So they said we could have part of the
second floor of the medical science building. I remember my office was in the
corner of the second floor; as you came through the doors [it was] on the left-hand
side. It was rather small but it was bigger than anything I had ever had, so it was
okay. I had a desk, a chair, a bookcase, and a side chair and those sorts of things.
But right in the center, toward the window, was a big, round pipe that came up from
the first floor and went all the way up through (I guess) to the fifth floor.
H: Was this in the center of the room?
W: No. If you looked at the windows toward the back of the room, it was in the center of
that space. But I had room in front of it where I could put my desk and things. But it
was rather an odd thing to look at. I finally found a use for it--I would prop my feet
on it when I was doing some of my deep thinking and things. Anyway, [the office]
next to mine was a larger office, and that was Virginia Strozier's.
H: She taught pediatrics?
W: Well, in the beginning we both taught both. But her office had a nice counter across
the windows, and that is where we sat and planned our coursework. When we
looked out we looked onto the hospital that was being built. In the beginning it was
just a metal structure, and then gradually the brick started coming up until we could
see the bricks out the window. Then, next to Virginia was Sid Jourard, who was a
H: Was it not unusual to have a psychologist on the faculty?
W: Well, we had several people on our faculty that were not of the discipline of nursing,
and I think I would like to explain that a little later when we have a chance. I would
like to finish now about the structure. As we sat and watched this building go up
which was Shands, we were very interested in what it was going to look like.
H: [You were interested in] where you were going to be.
W: [We thought of] where we were going to be, and the kind of facilities that were going
to be placed in this big building. It so happened that Mr. [Henry R.] Hinkley, who
was in charge of plants and grounds at that time, was from my hometown in
Pennsylvania. I saw him one day, and I said, "Is there any chance you could take
us through that structure and explain where the labor and delivery and patient room
[will be]?" and he said, "Oh, sure." So we all got together, and we went up some
stairs that were not closed in--they were just metal stairs--and we walked up to the
third floor. He said "Now, here," and it was just an open space without solid walls.
[It was] just a structure of some sort that sort of put it into rooms.
H: Did you have metal corner pieces that went up sort of?
W: [It was] something like that, and [there was] probably some wood and I do not know
what else. Anyway, he said, "Now, these are labor rooms along here." I am not a
very visually-oriented person, so I had trouble seeing labor rooms. Then we walked
a little farther, and he said, "Now, you are entering into the delivery suite itself."
There were three delivery rooms and a scrub room. Well, there were a lot of pipes; I
suppose that was where the water and stuff were going to come from. But it was
very difficult to visualize. Then we walked down through the ward and saw where
the rooms were going to be, and they looked fairly big at that point. I do not think we
went any farther than the third floor, and then we came back out again.
One other thing occurred in those early days: they laid the cornerstone. It was a big,
big to-do; all of the political people in the state were there. They all had different
kinds of things they put in this box to put into the cornerstone. I do not remember
now exactly what it all was, but they were memorabilia of that period of time. It was
a cold, windy day, and we were sitting out there on chairs. There was nothing to
protect us from the wind, and it just came howling through where we were. I was
very happy when it was all over, but it was a big affair; Shands was the biggest
hospital in this area, and it was a state hospital.
H: It was not named Shands then, was it?
H: It was from the beginning?
W: I think from the very beginning, because [Florida] Senator [William A.] Shands was
responsible for getting it here, so it was named after him. I do not know if there was
a ceremony where they specifically named it for him.
H: It seems to me we always called it the teaching hospital.
W: Maybe we did--I cannot remember. It has been Shands so long [that] I cannot
distinguish when it was.
Now, I remember the first patient that came in. [It was] a little girl. This pediatric
patient was admitted in October, I think.
H: Of what year?
W: I think it must have been 1959. I think that is about when it was. We came here in
1957 and 1958. I think it might have been October of 1959 when that little girl was
admitted. Again, all the ribbon cutting and things like that were very exciting. I
finally saw what those rooms were going to look like with the walls up. That pretty
much sets the tone for that part of it.
Now in terms of our offices, I think until Shands opened, our offices were on the
second floor. And then when Shands opened we were in our third year of the
college, and we had more faculty. We had all of the psychiatry and public health
people moving in, so we had to have more office space. They decided that the
laboratory--which was supposed to have a space on the corridor between Shands
teaching hospital and the medical center--was not going to use all that right away, so
we could have that space. So we were given a rather large area [that was] divided
into small rooms. That was nice; we had some nice offices up there. All of us had
an office to ourselves, which is quite a luxury in a lot of places on this campus. So
that is how it was.
Finally, when the Communicore was built we got the old library space down in the
H: First floor?
W: [It was the] first floor, in the basement. I guess that is where the college is still
H: [It is] still crammed in there.
W: Yes. Can you think of anything else that would be of interest in that vein--space and
H: We will probably think of things as we talk.
W: One of the things we alluded to in that first part of this tape was about Sid Jourard
being on our faculty. There was a line open, and the dean thought it would be well if
we filled it with someone who would enrich the faculty in terms of a different
discipline. And she hired Sid Jourard, who was a very outgoing young man. He
was a very great asset to the college while he was here.
H: He was quite well known, was he not?
W: Oh yes, he was very well known and [he] became more [of] a renowned
psychologist as the years went on. He eventually went to his own discipline, and of
course there he was recognized more so than we could recognize him.
H: When he wrote Transparent Sel[:Self-Disclosure and Well-Being], didn't he use a lot
of instances from his work in the College of Nursing, or have I gotten that mixed up?
Do you remember that book?
W: Yes. I think he might have. I know he was a very prolific writer. When he first came
he did not know what his job was, and of course nobody knew.
H: Nobody had ever had a psychologist in the College of Nursing.
W: No, so nobody knew. He would come in in the morning, and we could hear him over
there just plucking away at his typewriter. About two days later there would be an
article on our desks; he had xeroxed a whole bunch of them and put one on
everybody's desk to read. They were things that he observed--about nursing or
[about the] students. Some of them were very insightful. I do not know if you
remember the one about the "ah-ha" experience. Do you remember that one?
H: Yes. Why not say a little bit about that? That was good.
W: Well, he felt that if a student had an experience where the theory that she had been
studying and reading about came to meet with the actual clinical experience, it
would be like turning on an electric light. It would be an "ah-ha!" experience. He
said, "After a student has one or two of those, you do not have to worry about
motivating her for anything; she (or he) will take off and even read on his own, study
on his own and do things to answer some of his own questions." I think it works. It
was almost like, if you could look in their face, a light came on. From then on they
were hooked, is really what it was. But the trick was to find the clinical experience
that was really meshed with what they were studying in their academic work. That
was one of his articles.
He wrote quite a few that were very good, and he was there for us. If we had any
problems with students that we did not understand, [if we did not understand]
something that was going on, it was well to talk with Sid or even send students to
see him. He could help in a certain way.
We also had Carol Taylor, an anthropologist, on our faculty. Carol was another
person who had a vast background. She seemed to ask the right questions
whenever you got together with her, and she got you thinking in a different line from
what you were probably thinking. She was very interesting to have. Of course, she
also introduced a lot of different reading assignments or bibliographies and things
like that that were helpful. I do not know how long she was a member of the faculty.
H: Until she retired, which was probably the late 1980s.
H: I know she got us all interested in Margaret Mead.
W: Yes, she did.
H: I thought those were especially pertinent to maternity and infant nursing.
W: Yes, they were.
H: Do you remember Howard?
W: Yes. We had Howard Wooden, who was curator of a museum. [laughter]
H: He was also a sociologist.
W: He was also a sociologist. He was another fine person who came here to work in
the college. Again, he became so involved in nursing that there was a time when we
gave him a party and a cap because he wanted to be a part of the college.
H: Of course, he had quite a bit of experience with nursing before he came to us.
W: Yes, he had. What was his research in?
H: It was in family-centered maternity care.
H: So we felt as though he was just a gift to us in the maternity department.
W: Right. He gave some really good lectures to our students.
H: [Yes] he did.
W: I remember the one where he showed how art predicted what was coming next in
our social and cultural [environment].
H: He was an art historian, and he did wonderful things with slides to make his points.
W: Yes, and it was very interesting.
H: He and his wife never got a house down here; they lived at the Primrose Inn. Oh
dear, we really lost somebody when they went back to Indiana.
W: Yes, we did. They were a fine couple. Can you think of anybody else that came on
our faculty that was not a [nurse]?
H: [There was] Sam.
W: Sam Shulman was a sociologist too.
H: He came a little bit later, I guess [it was] after Howard left.
W: Yes, I guess so. But again, I think these people left a mark on the thinking of the
H: I do too. I think it is tremendous [when I] stop for a minute to think [about] the faculty
in the 1960s (this is the period we are talking about). Despite the fact that we had
had some academic preparation, [we] were really trained nurses--very procedure
oriented, physical care oriented, and not used to using ideas from other disciplines
at all, if we even knew what they were. So it was a tremendous opportunity to have
some people come in from these other areas and be gentle about the way they kind
of weaned us out from that very narrow background.
W: Right. There was a time when the first faculty arrived that they were sent to Bethel,
Maine, for I do not know how many weeks. There was a program on understanding
yourself, [with] Dottie Luther, Lois Knowles, and Joy LePage. Who was the fourth
one? I do not know if it was Carol [Hayes].
H: Did you go?
W: No, I was not on the faculty yet. This was that summer before I came on, but I was
in town. The four of them went up to Bethel for about a month, I believe, and they
had this intense course [that was designed to help them] learn about themselves. It
was very painful, but it opened them up to newer and better kinds of ways of
thinking and acting and understanding others. But that was the last time it was
done, because from then on, of course, we were working most of the time. It was
another way for the faculty to improve in some way.
H: I cannot help but think that all of those things made the College of Nursing so far
ahead of anyone else in the country in nursing. I just think that it was such a
tremendous opportunity to be able to come into that environment, because I just do
not think it existed anywhere else.
W: Well, it was an environment where you were not only teaching, but you were
learning [as well]. You were a learner on another level from the student that you
were teaching, but everybody was really in the same boat with some form of
learning--either going, reading, speaking, or whatever.
One of the early exercises that we had to do was on a textbook from one of the
classes--I think it was probably a freshman or sophomore class for our students.
They used the book Interpersonal Relationships in Nursing by [Hildegard] Peplau.
She had written this book, and we went through it as a faculty. We had a chapter a
week to read, and [we] wrote a paper on our reaction to that chapter. Every week
we handed in a paper, and the dean read it and made comments. She did not
grade it, but she would make comments and she would ask questions in the margins
and things like that. I can remember [that] it was quite a chore to go back to writing
papers again. In fact, that was one of Sid's problems--he was so far behind that he
used to tell us, "I am three weeks behind on my papers." [laughter]
H: He was too busy writing his books.
W: Anyway, he eventually got all his papers in. But it was an exercise, and then once a
week we would meet and discuss it as well. [There were] some other things we did
as a faculty.
H: There were faculty therapy groups [FTG] before I got there. Is that what they were
W: Yes, [they were called] FTG. Now, that came down from Bethel. Yes, we had
faculty therapy groups. About [once] every week we would go down and have
[sessions]. There was a conference room down there on the first floor that we would
use, and we would sit around and discuss some aspect of what was going on, or
whatever. But we had to be honest. Some of the people were very into it and would
not let you get away with generalization. Again, it helped to verbalize a lot of the
things that we were seeing and hearing and experiencing.
H: If you experience, as I did, trying to move into that kind of a setting and teach a
limited number of clinical hours a week when you were used to the wards when you
were in training [where you were] there, [you] lived there, and [you] had unlimited
clinical [experience] without anyone paying attention to whether you understood the
principles or anything, you became very adept at techniques and clinical procedures.
I know I felt sort of compelled to give that to students when I got to Gainesville. And
that is not what we were supposed to do at all. But I think it was very difficult for me
to make that transition. I do not know if it was for you.
W: Well, these things that we were going through probably helped us at the time. We
had some time there before we actually got into the clinical [segment of the
curriculum] where we met and talked. So we did not have to come and start
teaching [right away], the way you did. I think it was a little different situation.
H: Particularly when the set-up for learning and teaching and practice was so different.
I do not remember if we talked about that on the first tape--the unit manager system
and our responsibility for upgrade care. Did we put that on the first tape?
W: Yes, that was on the first tape where we talked about the dual responsibilities.
H: That was very exciting, but it was also a little frightening because it was so different
from anything that I had ever experienced.
W: Well in most situations that we came from, we had no responsibility for patient care.
We had responsibility for [the] students.
H: Keeping the desk clean.
W: If the students were caring for patients you had some responsibility to [the patients].
It was not that we had some responsibility for patient care when our students were
on the unit--we had a great deal of responsibility for the care and quality of care they
were given. But in terms of the overall upgrading [of] the quality of care on a unit,
you might feel responsible and want to do something, but you had no authority to do
it. Whereas, in this situation that we were in, we not only had the authority [but] we
were told, "You had better get with it and do it."
H: And you know there were some faculty that could not do that; [they] could not
handle that. I can understand it, because in the old system the mark of the nurse
who was really efficient was to phone in orders for supplies and keep up the charts
and all of that. That kept her busy enough so that she hardly had time for patients.
So when the desk work was all taken over by the unit manager and she [the nurse]
was freed up then to really do what she ought to be doing with patients, I think it was
more than some of the old-time nurses could handle.
W: The other thing, too, is that the prestige of nursing seemed to go up the farther away
you got from the patient, so here we were saying, "You have to get back to the
patient to be recognized." That was very hard for a lot of people, including myself in
the beginning because I thought, "Well, I am the teacher." But I was also basically a
nurse, and that is what should have been foremost.
Is there anything else along those lines? You mentioned the unit manager and I
cannot remember if we went into that on the other tape.
H: I do not think we did more than just mention it.
W: There is where Carol Taylor came in. Carol was on the units quite a bit. She went
down and watched what was going on and talked with people, and she kept seeing
the nurses doing everything but the kinds of things that we were trying to teach our
students to do. So she decided that we needed to separate jobs. The unit
manager, who was in the beginning a glorified clerk, became a real important person
on that unit, ordering supplies, checking the thermometers, and doing the kinds of
things that many nurses felt was their responsibility. About the only thing left for the
nurse to do was order drugs. I think everything else was basically taken care of.
There were housekeeping people and everybody had a specific job to do. That left
the nurse free to nurse. That, too, was hard for some of the nurses that came to
work here, because they were expected to do patient care like the aides. The
difference was in the level of care that the patient needed. I remember Carol was
very, very adamant about the fact that she did not want any of the nurses to be into
the counting business and the checking-up business and the serving of food
business. Our job was feeding the patient; somebody else could serve the food.
And I came from a long line of nurses that dished up the food.
H: Oh, me too.
W: So here we were without anyplace to hide while somebody else helped feed the
H: It was a very different world.
W: It really was.
H: And as you spoke, I thought back to that attempt made to show that the supervising
nurse--we called them Nurse Ils back then--and the unit manager and the chief
resident were on a level of importance as far as their authority in their positions.
W: Which is right.
H: Then each one of them was responsible for supervising those who worked in their
area under them. And the housekeeper for the hospital was a very important
W: Yes. Right.
H: All of that was so different.
Another person who came a little bit later, but along the same lines, was Mary
W: Yes. Now Mary is a psychologist, too. I think in the beginning she was just a
general psychologist, and was interested in the differences between men and
women. Remember her lectures on how we grew up to be different?
W: Some of that was very interesting.
H: And [it was] very new. She presented that material to students. I had not heard that
before, [like] why do you put pink on little girls and condition them to behave in
W: And to observe mothers with their newborn babies, [one noticed] how different they
were when they had a little boy and a little girl. They encouraged almost belligerent
behavior on the little boy's part, and her little girl had to be sweet. It was just very
H: Very new insights.
W: Yes. That was an eye-opener. Then she got into her research with the Myers-
Briggs [personality typing].
H: That came a little later.
W: Yes, lots later.
H: But I think in those early years she made a big impression on me, in increasing my
perspective as far as teaching [was concerned].
W: We also had some very good lectures out of the medical school.
H: Yes, we did.
W: [They were] very informative and (I would say) again, quite different from what the
traditional medical lecture was about.
H: That is true, because as we were changing and growing in this way, the College of
Medicine was also using some different philosophies in teaching. So it was not just
us; it was everyone in the health center.
The other person we probably need to mention is Sol Kramer, because his
information really did create a big interest.
W: Yes. What was Sol's background?
H: In the beginning I think he was a zoologist, but when he came to us he was an
W: He studied bugs.
H: He did indeed.
W: Roaches, to be exact. [laughter]
H: He studied with Konrad Lorenz and some of these people in Germany that were
very interested in animal behavior, particularly courtship and parenting.
W: Yes. Was he the one who got us to read The Naked Ape?
H: No, that came later.
W: There was something he got us to read; [it was] the one where the duck followed the
H: That was Konrad Lorenz's research about the goose and the goslings being
imprinted on her.
W: Right, which was why we wanted mothers and babies together.
H: And this was a long time before bonding became any kind of a household word. But
those were the most exciting years--when he would come to class or take us down
to his lab.
W: [Where we would] watch the mating behavior of the roaches.
H: [It was] of [both] the fish and the cockroaches.
W: Yes, he had fish too. And he was such a nice person, so gentle.
H: Those were all things that happened in the 1960s. And I would have to say that, if I
had to pick one decade out of my professional career as being the exciting one, that
is the one I would pick.
W: Well, it certainly put the groundwork in for our later understanding of ourselves and
our practice and how to bring about some change in the system.
H: We sure knew we did not like it the way it was.
W: We had reason to believe. And although we did not have huge numbers of subjects
in any way, we certainly had some observations that proved the points that we were
trying to make.
H: I remember when we had the prenatal clinic on the first floor of the medical science
building, before they even built the new clinic building. We took a little corner of the
waiting room, brought some of the expectant moms over to that corner, and put up a
birth atlas so that we could teach and the students could help us teach a little bit
about what was going to happen with labor and delivery. Do you remember how the
other patients complained that that was indecent behavior, and they made us stop
it? [laughter] I guess I bring it up because people's minds were still pretty closed in
many ways, and that is a good example of it. [This was] at a time when at least you
and I were talking about how we were going to get rooming-in or get it fixed up so
that mothers and babies could be together.
W: And you could not even put a birth atlas up for patients to look at.
H: Well, that clinic was sort of difficult in many ways, because it was a medical model.
You would go in there, and the students, if they did not race around doing blood
pressures and getting patients in and out of rooms, were just in the way. There was
no way that they were going to learn the kinds of things we wanted them to learn
W: It was a typical prenatal clinic.
H: And unfortunately there were still a lot of them like that.
W: Yes [there are] still a lot of them. I think it might be getting better in some places.
H: I would hope so.
W: I think there is enough of a push.
H: But I know that we did not want to stay there.
H: We tried to figure out some other way to get our patients the kind of prenatal
experience we thought they ought to be having.
W: Aside from these people that were brought in as another discipline on the faculty, we
had some interesting things within the faculty itself. For example, every time
anybody went to a meeting outside the college, like to the [National] League [for
Nursing] meetings or the ANA [American Nurses' Association] meetings or
whatever, they were supposed to write a summary of what went on: what some of
the interesting points were, and what some of the new ideas were. I must say, in
the very beginning, people were still doing a lot of what we had already decided was
not what we wanted to do. That is when we would start talking about what we were
The National League for Nursing would come down to visit us every now and then to
see what we were doing down here, because we were rather revolutionary, and they
had to accredit us. They began to say, "There is something going on down there
that is of interest, and we need to have other people see it." So we were put on
[what was] like a visitors list. People from colleges all over the United States and all
over the world--it was an international list--were invited to come to Florida to visit the
college. In the beginning we had a few coming from all over the United States, and
then South America and some of the European countries. Some even came with
their interpreters. But it got so that we were so busy explaining what we were doing
that we were not able to do it. It was a week out of here and a week out of there.
Do you remember a faculty meeting we had where we were given the ideas of how
we were going to curtail this visiting, what a number was that we could handle, and
what we wanted them to have when they get here in terms of what their purpose is?
H: Yes, because some of them were coming and were just like open books. They
really did not know what they wanted--about just anything that we threw their way.
W: Right. It was just, "What are you doing?" You could spout [information] for six
hours, and they would take notes. And you wondered what was happening to that.
Anyway, we finally decided on the number. I do not remember what it was now, but
they had to send their objectives as to what they wanted to find out about the place.
We would review those, and if we did not think that that was an appropriate
objective or group of objectives, we would tell them "We are very sorry, but we are
busy and can not accommodate you." That went on for about ten years or more. It
helped you to speak about the program, because you spouted it off.
H: You got used to it.
W: Yes, and it was very interesting. It came so easy finally, because you knew what
you were doing.
Did I talk about going up and auditing the courses on campus?
H: I do not know whether it is on the tape or not, so maybe you should.
W: One of the things that also improved faculty in the early days was one of the goals,
which was for the health center to fit into the University; not "we are down here and
you are up there," but to sort of make it all one campus. So all the courses that our
students took--and those were the C courses at that time--were audited by our
faculty. Notes taken and bibliographies were all filed. So when our students were
assigned to take C-1 or whatever they were, we could look at that and see what
kinds of things they were getting. That took a lot of time.
H: But that was so important, because you built on that.
W: Yes, that is right.
H: Again, that is something that was very lacking in the old training schools. You were
lucky to get any kind of a class, [and you] hardly ever [got] one that had that kind of
rhyme or reason to it.
W: That is right. But we had to have all those courses in the outlines, and what went
into them. You audited courses that were particularly of interest to your specialty.
We went up to the College of Education and did some of their early childhood
growth and development and early childhood education, and those kinds of things
that would set the stage for what happened to babies as they grew up along the line,
and so forth. They had a small day-care center up there where they had some
children come in. I do not know how old they were; [they were] just little toddlers on
up to kindergarten. We also went to some of the early kindergartens and the
H: They did not have day care back then.
W: No, they did not have day care, but they had preschool places. They had sort of a
day care, because I remember going--I had never been to any of those--and having
the children just hang on me because they wanted somebody of their own. The
people that ran the place were so busy. It was not a very pleasant experience.
Anyway, that was another area that we looked at.
The other thing we tried to do, was that we were on committees that were on
campus. Every year a list of committees would come out that had openings, and we
were encouraged to put forth our name on any one that we wanted to be on. It was
sent on up to campus, and they would select somebody. I think a lot of us had a
chance to be up there and meet a lot of the faculty from up on campus. We became
known as a college of our own.
The other way we got to know a lot of faculty from campus was on registration days.
H: Oh my, yes.
W: We used to go sit in the gym for days on end while the students marched in front of
H: [There were] lines of students.
W: [There were] lines of them. I felt so sorry for them. They would get all the way up to
the desk, and you would have to say, "Have you tried this?" [They would say], "Yes,
and it is closed." [You would say], "Have you tried this?" [And the student would
say], "That is closed."
H: I wonder how many people around remember when registration day was in the gym.
Now it is all computerized.
W: I do not know, but it is all computerized. We sat beside pharmacy. I do not
remember who was on the other side.
H: It was kind of fun, because you did have a chance to talk to different people.
W: And you got to see other students. Students from other disciplines would come by
and look at what we were offering. It was kind of a hodgepodge, but it was fun. I
am sure the students did not have as much fun as we did, because we were sitting
down anyway. But that was another example of being involved in the University as
The other thing was that we were committed to having our students attend
commencement when the time came. Of course that first year, I guess everybody
wanted to go to commencement because it was the first class. There is something
very important about being recognized for an accomplishment like that, I think.
H: [It was being recognized] with the total University, rather than just having a little
ceremony down in your own place.
W: Right. Well, we had a pinning ceremony, but it always followed commencement so
that a student could not just come and get pinned and then leave; she had to stay
through commencement. She did not always go [to commencement], but she was
on the campus.
That is about the extent of it.