Nursing Voices

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hospital Nocturne

Today’s book report is about “Hospital Nocturne” by Alice Eleanor Lambert. This oldie but goodie was first published in 1932, and is described by the author as an enchanting behind-the-scenes account of the excitement and drama of the little world within a hospital.

Love and Tragedy in a Hospital.....

“Strange, isn’t it?” Carol Maitland, grave, sweet-faced student nurse, says slowly. “I just love every bit of it. The patients, the babies, the excitement of the surgeries—fighting with interns and having sort of half-flirtations with the doctors—there’s something going on in this place every minute.”

To lovely, gracious Carol, who had been robbed suddenly of her parents, the big hospital has become home, safety, and friends. Sharing gay adventures with her beautiful roommate, Enid Ashland, and the madcap, Sheila Lane; helping genial old Father Time, the institution’s favorite patient, sneak they young nurses in through his open window after-hours; bullying rich young Rodney Herrick into forgetting that he came to the hospital to die; going out on a blind date with Sheila and meeting Jean, a strangely exciting naval officer—all that is part of the fascinating life of the young student nurse.

Then suddenly everything begins to go wrong. Jean goes away and doesn’t come back, and Carol begins to doubt her own code of ethics. Shelia forgets her Heck and falls in love with Dr. Lait, who is too grand ever to marry a nurse. Enid begins drifting toward the rocks and Carol feels powerless to help her. The Canfield case comes in and the whole hospital boils with the futility of the affair. And there is the heart-breaking night when Carol and Rodney hear Enid’s agonized cry and find her wandering half-crazed about the garden.

Has anyone seen this hospital before? Here’s a map. Wherever it is, I’m staying away. There’s too much drama going on in that place.

I don’t remember any of this stuff happening when I went to nursing school. Granted, I went to school many years ago, but my memory isn’t totally gone. I remember staying up long hours with my nose in nursing books, and not going out because I was too busy keeping up with my schoolwork. I remember living in a three story nursing dormitory. It was old and rundown, and there was no air conditioning during the hot summer and little heat during the winter. We had three housemothers, one for each shift that made sure we returned to the dorm safe and sound. They were tough customers that made sure we didn’t sneak men into the dormitory. I remember the girls who lived with me. We were like family. There was one payphone on each floor, and we would ease drop on each other’s phone calls. We didn’t flirt with doctors and we got along with interns. We were all kind of crazy, but I don’t remember any of my friends wandering half-crazed about the garden.

What do you remember about being a nursing student?


Blogger Janet said...

The thing I remember most about being a nursing student waaaaay back in the Dark Ages is being terrified all the time. Three solid years of high anxiety.

9:57 PM  
Blogger national nurse said...


I could not agree more. High Anxiety, wasn't there a movie with that title, and Gilda Radner's husband played a lead role?

I graduated way back in the Dark Ages too, I tell my students that I knew Florence, Lillian, and Clara. Of course Cherry was like a best friend. :-)

10:15 PM  
Blogger kt said...

i remember the nursing hat, panty hose and dress. we were the last group to go through that dress code and then they allowed pants the next year. i had my fingernails checked every thursday and friday before clinicals to check the "length". it was hell.

7:12 AM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Nursing school...

Day on the Green concerts at the Oakland Coliseum where you could see Foriegner, Boston, Linda Rondstadt and the Eagles for $10.50 (which was 2 1/2 hours of work for an aide).

The Bee Gees

Living at home.

A lime green 1965 VW Bug that I would kill to have now but didn't appreciate then.

Star Wars.

Feeling clueless.

Having exactly three dates with three guys - married the third one!

Oh..and studying.

1:18 PM  
Blogger AllHomeSecurity said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

I walked half crazed around the skills lab.....

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the pointy Dutch-girl cap, the ugly green-striped dress with its button-on pinafore and, most of all, the constant fear that my lack of skills would kill or maim a patient in my care. At the end of the shift I'd go home and cry for hours. Wasn't until later that I found out most of my class survived with the help of Valium....

I do believe it was different back in the 1930's, though. My mother had her three years of training at a TB san back in the mid '30's-- she had a stern housemother who kept a vigilant eye on her, but Mom still managed to flirt with and date a couple of the doctors. But best of all, she met my father when he was admitted to her ward, and they married while he was still a patient!

4:25 PM  
Blogger Verne said...

I have been in hospital so many times and without the support adn understanding of nurses I'd be very reluctant to go in again. You deserve a big pay rise. I just wanted to say thankyou !

2:11 AM  

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