Nurses' Training in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in the 1940s and Early 1950s

By Tisdale, David | Southern Quarterly, Spring/Summer 2016 | Go to article overview

Nurses' Training in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in the 1940s and Early 1950s


Tisdale, David, Southern Quarterly


Dating back to 1908, the history of nurse training at the former Methodist Hospital of Hattiesburg's School of Nursing tells us much about the growth and progress of health care in the South. It offered a three-year program leading to a registered nurse diploma until the program was discontinued in 1968. Margaret Gilmore Wakeland, RN, now eighty-five, whom I interviewed in April 2016, attended Methodist's School of Nursing along with her late sister Dorothy "Dot" Gilmore Wood. Both graduated in 1951 and are pictured in their student uniforms in Figure 1. Wakeland pointed out that the program included courses in general nursing and home economics as well as training in surgery and obstetrics. The school was also affiliated with Charity Hospital in New Orleans, where student nurses received an additional three months of training in infectious diseases and pediatrics. Wakeland remembers with pride that "the doctors at Charity kept saying, 'Send us some of those nurses from Methodist [Hospital], they know what they're doing. Send them in to help us.' "

During the 1940s, when the Gilmore sisters were student nurses, hospitals still used oxygen tents, requiring an ice box to keep the oxygen cylinders cool, and then nurses had to empty the melted ice. Needles and catheters had to be sanitized by being boiled and then were reused. …

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