People's History of the NHS


Nursing Schools in the 1960s

In the mid-1960s, the daughter of two GPs in the Wirral was looking into becoming a nurse. She wrote to the nursing schools she was most interested in, one nearby in Liverpool but mostly in London, and asked them for details of their courses. She kept the prospectuses they sent her and now - half a century later - she has kindly shared them with us.

They outline three and four-year courses of study, where the syllabus was heavy on anatomy, physiology and practical nursing demonstrations. The scientific and technical side of nursing was emphasised by some, but all said applicants needed to be more than well-educated. The Guy's prospectus said candidates must be at least 5'2" tall and produce "satisfactory evidence of good moral character, good health, unimpaired faculties, and general fitness of disposition and temperament for the duties of a Sick Nurse."

Each prospectus tried to give an impression of the social life of their nursing students, an important consideration since they would be living in residence. It was possible for nurses to marry and live out, though as the St George's prospectus commented: "It is not generally considered advisable for students to marry until they are in the third year of their course."

Folded inside one of them was a letter from the Matron of Guy's Hospital in London. It was to invite her, as well as her parents or guardian, to the hospital for a two-hour interview. The interview was successful.

All images in this gallery are photographs taken from the private collection of Anna Page.

4 thoughts on “Swimming nurses

    1. This sounds genuinely fascinating and very much worth taking a look at – thanks so much for sharing this with us!

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