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Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences

Chapter XXII. — University Diplomas

page 106

Chapter XXII.
University Diplomas.

Another interesting suggestion in connection with nursing came from Auckland, when Dr. Pabst, of the Auckland Hospital, proposed at the opening of the new Nurses' Home in 1912, that the University should confer a Degree for Nursing, so recognising what for years had been a profession.

This suggestion gave rise to much thought, and I wrote my editorial of the April number of Kai Tiaki on that subject. I did not consider that the time was ripe then for any radical change in the training of nurses, and Dr. Pabst himself did not think that an academic training could take the place of practical work in a hospital. My editorial in Kai Tiaki really conveys much that I now, nearly twenty years later, think about the profession of nursing and the best preparation for it.

After that basic preparation, however, there are women who could well aspire to a University degree by postgraduate study. Such women as those who wish to go in for administrative posts, and for teaching students would benefit undoubtedly, but for the nurse who means to devote her life to actual sick nursing the time needed to acquire a University degree would be better spent in gaining experience in the treatment of disease.

Some few years after I retired from office, a postgraduate course for nurses with a diploma from the University was established, largely through the incentive of my successor, Miss Bicknell, who had been in England and seen what had there been accomplished in this direction. page 107 In this I fully sympathised, and was much interested in the students, who either sent by Hospital Boards to return to their hospitals as sister tutors, or in other positions of responsibility, or who had, at their own expense, given up the time to gain the diploma, or who, in the Government service already had been sent by the Health Department to improve their knowledge and usefulness.

Keeping in touch, as I always have, with my late department, I was glad to welcome these students to my home, and many pleasant meetings we had.

I may record here that the Health Department chose two nurses, Miss Janet Moore, Matron of the Waikato Hospital, formerly a military nurse who won distinction in the Great War, and Miss Mary Lambie, a Christchurch graduate, who was in the Government service as a school nurse, and sent them, Miss Moore to Bedford College, London, to gain experience in hospital management and teaching, and Miss Lambie to Toronto University, to gain experience in public health. These two, when they returned, took charge of the course for the post-graduate students with great success.

Miss Lambie, in 1931, was appointed to succeed Miss Bicknell as Director of Nursing, and, owing to financial stress, the course for that year was abandoned, and Miss Moore carried out systematic inspection of nurse training schools.

It is hoped to resume the course next year, or the year after. I note that it is possible that the International Course at Bedford College is also in jeopardy owing to financial stress, and may not be continued after 1932. In this connection it is claimed that as so many nurses from different countries had gone through the course and gone back to spread their knowledge in their own lands, the object for which it started had been attained.