The General Hospital School of Nursing, St. John's, Newfoundland 1903-1930

White, Linda (1992) The General Hospital School of Nursing, St. John's, Newfoundland 1903-1930. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF (Migrated (PDF/A Conversion) from original format: (application/pdf)) - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (27Mb)
  • [img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
    (Original Version)

Abstract

This thesis examines the effect of the political economy of the General Hospital on the development of the General Hospital school of nursing from 1903 to 1930. The General Hospital was the only government-funded hospital in Newfoundland providing health care for the entire colony of 124,000. The school of nursing was the only nurses' training program in Newfoundland until 1929 when a second school opened. Therefore, almost all trained nurses who worked in Newfoundland were graduates of the General Hospital school of nursing. The exceptions were the British nurses who worked in remote rural areas as medical missionaries with the Grenfell Association and the Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association. -- During the first period, 1903 to 1916, Mary Southcott, the Superintendent of Nurses, and the nurses sought to establish their place within the male medical hierarchy of the hospital. They believed the goals of professionalization would help them improve their status in that hierarchy, goals such as autonomy within their occupation, the right to develop their own code of ethics, educational standards, and certification requirements. -- At the same time the hospital was evolving from a marginal welfare institution to a modern health care facility. Doctors and administrators were anxious to carve out their own sphere of influence within this system. They saw it as beneficial to have a subordinate and compliant female workforce as a cheap source of labour. This was supplied by the school of nursing attached to the hospital. Two personalities which played an important role in the development of nursing were Mary Southcott and Lawrence Keegan. Keegan, as Medical Superintendent of the hospital, disagreed with the nurses' view that nurses should have control over all nursing matters. He felt that all aspects of health care should be under his jurisdiction. This contradiction led to a major crisis at the hospital in 1914 with the government instigating a royal commission to examine the problems and suggest recommendations. At issue was the struggle between the nurses and the administration (doctors and government officials) over who had the power and authority to determine the nurses' role and status within the hospital. -- After a year of investigation, the royal commission agreed with Keegan's view and subsequently organized the hospital along new lines. Southcott was fired and a new, more compliant nurse put in her place. The second period, 1916 to 1930, saw the recommendations of the royal commission put into place. A board of governors was established to run the hospital on a more businesslike footing. -- The years 1903 to 1916 were an optimistic period where nurses sought their place in the medical hierarchy. It was a time of loyalty and respect to their common ideals of professionalism. In the second period, 1916 to 1930, nurses responded to the new industrial management techniques by more aggressive industrial style opposition. Instead of polite letters of protest which marked the first era, nurses resorted to threats of strike action to protest low wages and poor working conditions. -- Hospital nursing schools produced a work culture that was unique to nursing. The apprenticeship form of training meant that nurses learned the detailed routine of hospital work from senior nurses and each other. Learning was done both on the wards and in the residence. Nurses' training programs in Newfoundland, Britain, Canada, and the United States were based on the guidelines established by Florence Nightingale. Therefore, the universality of nurses' training offered General Hospital nurses the mobility of travelling and working in any of these countries. Almost half of the nurses who graduated from the General Hospital travelled outside Newfoundland to work, the most popular location being the eastern United States. Nursing, as a career, gave many Newfoundland women personal and financial independence as well as an opportunity to travel.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5559
Item ID: 5559
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 190-195
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 1992
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: General Hospital (St. John's, N.L.). School of Nursing--History; Nursing schools--Newfoundland and Labrador--History

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics