About Different Nursing Training

Hospital-based Nursing Training vs University Grad Nurses

In the 1960’s anyone wanting a career in nursing did their training in a hospital. On reflection, nurses were lowly paid workers in the hospital system, and while we did have regular lectures and supervision by our seniors, it was the many hours of ward work that kept the hospitals able to manage the care of sick and older people (there were very few if any aged care facilities), and we learned on the job.

I recall that our working hours were at least 48 hours a week, for a paltry pay.  Not only were our working hours long, but we had to attend lectures and study in our own time.  Of course, in those days it was only women who were doing nursing training and ward work.  I recall one man starting his training in the very late 60’s.  If we were on night duty, we still had to stay awake after our shift ended and attend lectures.  And do the study!  Nurses in those days had little support – even if a nurse had a terrible experience on duty (violent patient, trauma etc), there was no assistance for that girl.

We were required to live in the “nurses’ quarters” or “nurses’ home”, under strict rules.  All our meals were provided but in the hospital. We had our own small room with a single bed, a wardrobe, a desk and storage facilities for our clothes and books.  We had a communal bathroom, laundry and a small kitchen.  Rules were strict, we had to be “home” by 10 pm, (two nights a week we could stay out until midnight if we had applied to do so).  We certainly enjoyed the experience of living with so many of our co-workers.

Very few of us went on to complete the training.  I think there were around 20 in our group, and I recall that after three years only three of us graduated.  And the three of us worked in the health system for many years after – while getting married and having children.  Some of us are still in contact with each other many years later.

A “Profession”

Around 30 years after my training, nursing became a “profession” – which I find rather amusing.  That is what was said in one of the online documents.  We regarded it as a profession, as we had been doing the work as the newly graduated university-trained nurses.  Many of us who worked with these graduates were unimpressed with their attitude and many of us have stories that indicate to us that there was great value in hospital-based training.

However, over the years, modern technology has required a higher level of education than we had, and many of my cohorts from the old days have managed to keep working in the system learning how to keep up with the changes.

I had several experiences working with the university-trained nurses and I was often not impressed.  I remember one of them having a panic attack when having to make some decisions about a seriously ill patient.  I’d never seen anything like that in my long experience.  I also found that they often saw themselves “above” some of the basic skills that we did.  I recall being told when in training that even as an RN (registered/trained nurse), we still had to do some basic tasks for our patients, e.g. get a bedpan, or comfort them.  But I have had quite a few experiences where this would not be done by someone who felt that their education removed them from basic tasks.


In my recent experience as an older person, I have seen the way some of these graduates see themselves as terribly important, and “above” their patients and co-workers.  I get the feeling with some of them that because I am old, I cannot be as “clever” as them.  I would like to tell them that I have more qualifications than them with two university degrees, plus my “hospital-based” nursing qualifications.

I heard recently that at least one hospital in Queensland had introduced some hospital-based training, but then at a health forum, I was told it was not true.  I do know that university nursing students do have to experience “placement” to learn different skills.

I do know that many of us “old nurses” have had concerns about those who regard their university nursing skills as so far above those who studied the “old way”.

The Only Two who completed training - April 1 (yes, no April Fool joke!) 1966.

Hospital Training Completed – April 1st 1966.

Just saying.

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About Di Hill

My business card says "Writer, Traveller, Camera Addict, Bamboo Fan, Workshop Presenter." This website will focus on my writing - and the workshops I present. Workshops on Blogging, Marketing for Writers, and Life Story Writing.
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