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Grad Pic In the “good old days” nurses trained in hospitals rather than universities or colleges which meant that not only did we study together but we also lived together in a Nurses Residence.  As a result we got to know each other pretty well as we were all dealing with the same issues of home-leaving and late adolescence. In fact we pretty much grew up together since we all arrived at about 18 years of age, straight out of high school,  and were rapidly exposed to sights and experiences that we had never even dreamed of before.

Nurses’ training back then was a very grueling thirty-three months, and the demands of our instructors and war-hardened supervisors were such that well over half of the class were kicked out for various infractions such as unprofessional attitudes and breaking curfew. Our class was one of the last 2 plus 1 classes in Ontario, which essentially meant that our first two years were fully paid for by the hospital and the third year we provided what amounted to slave labour to repay our debts. However, I almost certainly would not have been able to afford an education otherwise and to give our instructors their due, we were all excellent nurses by the time we graduated.

I used my training well, both on the ward in London and St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospitals, but also increasingly toward the end of my career, in administration. I ended my nursing career at CPRI in London as manager of  Nursing Services in 2007 when Steve and I moved to Kuala Lumpur. However, even in my new ‘job’ in Community Development in Southeast Asia, my health care background has proven to be invaluable. As best as I could I tried to stay in contact with those whom I had trained and graduated with so many years ago.

This past weekend I had the joy of spending  time in Niagara Falls with more than half of my graduating class getting caught up on the lives of these amazing women who have each contributed so much to their professions, their families and their communities over the past forty years. I am so proud to be able to call them my friends. Our lives have taken many different paths, and we’ve each had to deal with our own joys and struggles over the years, but it felt like we were all just picking up from were we left off forty years ago.

We  are all so grateful to Marci, Liz, Mary Jane, Nancy and Karen who so thoughtfully and carefully put together a fabulous weekend for us. Sadly some were not able to join us due to health, family, and work responsibilities, but we hope to see them in 2016 for a huge birthday party in Port Dover to celebrate what will be for many of them their 65th birthday. I hope I will also be able to be there, despite being a mere babe of 64 by that time!

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