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Children's Hospital School of Nursing
Documents Only


The School's Beginning

Application Requirements for CandidatesNurse's Recital in front of the Halifax Children's Hospital

The Nursing Program

The School's Curriculum

Capping Ceremony


The Nurse's Residence



The School's Beginning


The Children’s Hospital was established in 1909 and was, at that time, the only hospital for children east of Montreal with a school of nursing. The Nurse's and Children, ca. 1920modest brick hospital building was designed to accommodate 204 patients, and admitted any child needing services from infancy to children 14 years of age. The Children's Hospital School of Nursing, specializing in pediatrics work, was established in 1916. The school offered a three year professional nursing course and prepared young women to qualify for any branch of nursing after Carolyn Kerr and Child, ca. 1920graduation. The first class, with two students, graduated in 1919. It was also the first school of nursing in the Maritime Provinces to accept an African-Canadian student in 1945.


While the school's training provided extensive experience in children’s nursing, periods of affiliation with adult hospitals in the area were also provided and encouraged to give the students additional experience in adult nursing. The Children's Hospital logo; "Where no child knocks in vain," ca. 1960hospital was affiliated with Dalhousie University, and in 1966 the construction of the new Isaac Walton Killam Hospital for Children began. On June 10, 1971 the Curriculum council gave its approval to the request from the I.W.K. Hospital School for Nursing to reduce the program in nursing by two months for students graduating in 1971. This year also saw the last class to graduate, and after fifty five years the program was phased out. Most of the 801 students had a chance to finish their education in the Halifax Children’s Hospital, but 38 had the chance to finish in the new I.W.K. Children's Hospital.

Izaak Walton Killam Hospital for Children Report; Request to have the Program Shortened, 1971

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Application Requirements for Candidates


Interested candidates applying for admission had to be female and be between 17 and 35 years of age. Admission requirements stipulated that potential students have a Nova Scotia Grade XI provincial pass certificate with a passing grade in mathematics and a Nova Scotia grade XII provincial pass certificate in five academic subjects, or two in the case of a student holding other than Nova Scotia certificates. Nurse's and Children, ca. 1920's


Candidates wishing to apply were asked to write to the director of the School of the Nursing by letter or in person. When possible, personal interviews were desired and were to be arranged by phone or letter. Upon making their applications, students were asked to submit the following forms: application form, physician’s certificate; statement from dentist, immunization record. When the forms are returned the student must be accompanied by a birth certificate, grade XI and grade XII provincial pass certificates or their equivalent, as well as a recent full length picture and a brief personal history giving the cultural and other activities in which the student has participated. An interval of time may elapse before the final decision regarding the acceptance of the applicant.


Hannah Parker, ca. 1940Candidates had to be in good health, and certificates from doctors and dentists were required, and upon entrance a thorough examination was required to confirm that the applicants were of in good health. A chest x-ray was taken and would be repeated every year, and more frequently if indicated. Other medical examinations were made as required. A monthly weight record was also kept of all the students. During the preliminary term each student was tested for susceptibility to diphtheria and tuberculosis, and immunized against these diseases if the test results so indicated. A program was also carried out for immunization against smallpox, typhoid, tetanus, and poliomyelitis. An immunization record had to be submitted by parents along with the signed consent forms for any procedure that was to be performed on the students. If a student was to become ill, they would be cared for gratuitously by the hospital.


There were no tuition fees however, students were required to pay a student government registration fee of $5.00. By the 1950's however, books cost approximately $55.00, however books after the preliminary period were an additional $20.00. Finally, a fee of $25.00 was to be paid upon writing of the Registered Nurses examinations.


Three Nurse's in Uniform, [1950]Incidentals required upon entrance into the program included: one pair of bandage scissors, one pair of white nurses shoes ($8.00), two pairs of white nylons (at $1.00 each), three dresses (approximately $4.75 each), 6 collars (at $0.35 each), 14 aprons (at $2.50 each), one alarm clock, one wrist watch, one napkin ring, one steamer rug or colored blanket, and two cotton laundry bags (20 inches by 20 inches) marked clearly with the students name. All clothing had to be marked, and at least six dozen woven name tags showing full names had to be provided by the students; the remainder to be used on uniforms. Nurses were required to purchase a cape after 6 months, which cost anywhere from 21-30$ in the 1940's and 1950's.


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The Nursing Program


The course of training was three full years. It was divided into four terms; preliminary term (five months), Junior term (seven months), the intermediate term of one year, and the senior term of one year. One class a year was admitted in September.


Student's in the Demonstration Room, ca. 1960In the preliminary term, the students spent a large part of their study on the basic physical and social sciences and in the theory and practice of nursing. All lectures and clinical teachings were done by qualified instructors, and time was spent on the wards during this period practicing procedures under the direction and supervision of a clinical instructor. The preliminary term was a trial period where the student was given an opportunity to provide her aptness for nursing. Her final acceptance into the school depended on the degree of intellectual and practical ability shown during this period, as well as her personality and character.


During the junior term, students spent most of the time on the wards of the hospital, and it was during this period that the first term of night duty or P.M. duty was experienced.

Probie's National Anthem, 1959

A Students Record of Practical Work, 1938

The intermediate term was spent gaining experience in special departments and branches of adult nursing. The hospitals, departments and the dates (where possible) that these affiliations were started are provided: Student's in the Classroom, ca. 1960

  • Three months at the Victoria General Hospital for theoretical and clinical experience in medical-surgical nursing to adults (started in 1932).

  • Three months at the Grace Maternity Hospital (1932) or at the Halifax Infirmary (1933) for experience in obstetrical nursing.

  • Three months at the Nova Scotia Hospital for experience in Psychiatric Nursing (1961).

  • One month at the Nova Scotia Sanatorium, in Kentville, for experience in tuberculosis nursing (1957).

  • Two weeks was spent at the Children’s Clinic.

  • Four weeks in the Children’s Hospital out-patient department, where the students gained experience on the field of public health and preventative medicine (1932).

  • A short period of observation with the Victorian Order of Nurses or City Health was also provided, giving the students insight into visiting nursing (1944).

In addition to these affiliations, students would, one at a time, affiliate at the Tuberculosis Hospital and the Infectious Diseases Hospital on Morris Street, now University Avenue. With the closing of the Morris Street Tuberculosis Hospital an affiliation with the Nova Scotia Sanatorium in Kentville was started.


A senior term was spent largely in the Children’s Hospital where experience in more responsible nursing duties was gained. One week was also spent on the Rehabilitation Center gaining experience in rehabilitative nursing during the senior term (affiliation was started in 1962).


Diploma, ca.1960          Graduating Class, 1937


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The School's Curriculum


Most of the three years was spent in training at the Children’s Hospital. The student would spend approximately five months on a infant unit, three months on surgery, three months on medicine, one month on orthopedics, and one month in infectious diseases. The total theoretical hours over a three year period for a topic taught in the classroom was as follows: Bailliere's Nurses Complete Medical Dictionary; Student Textbooks, 192640,000 Medical Words Pronounced and Defined; Student Textbooks, 1928

1934    - 405 hours

1940    - 490 hours

1950    - 703 hours

1960    - 992 hours

1970    - 1301 hours

The students, in later years, were expected to write Hospital examinations for each year and this played a role in promotion. Specific rules were laid down with regard to the number of failures permitted over the three years and what was considered a passing grade. The pass marks ranged from 50%-60% with 70% expected in Nursing practice and 75% in pharmacology. Results of examinations were sent home to parents to observe and the form signed and returned to school. If students had a 100% on their examinations, they could continue with their overnights, or late leaves, but if they had one failure, they could only have three overnights. If more than one subject was failed, no overnights were granted for 2 months. Graduation depended on satisfactory completion of both studies and clinical experience. Several Halifax Children’s Hospital nursing students finished first in the provincial registration examinations during the school’s history. The student was evaluated at the end of each clinical rotation and a proficiency report was given to the teaching department for comparison of progress.

Children's Hospital Examinations List for Students by Year, ca. 1960

Future of Nursing Education in Nova Scotia Report; April 1, 1969

The faculty consisted of a director of Nurses, Associate Director of Nursing Education, instructors and the health services nurse with other individuals brought in as the need arose. Until 1955, the instructors wore black shoes and stockings, and then changed to white shoes and stockings. In 1939, there were three instructors for both the basic program and the affiliating students. The complement of instructors was increased to 4 in 1958 and increased again in 1969. Each instructor taught a certain number of subjects in the basic school and the instructor teaching the affiliation students also taught pediatrics to the basic school students.


Nursing School Pin, ca. 1960Classroom facilities were for the most part makeshift. The O.E. Smith Residence Board room was used as a demonstration room for the preliminary classes. There was also a classroom in the basement of the residence. The library was a small broom closet off of the Board room in the O.E. Smith Residence, and a slightly larger space became available when it was moved to the Victoria Winslow Residence. When the library was moved to the residence in Park Victoria, a larger room was provided and as well as tables and chairs. There were also library facilities inNursing School Pin, ca. 1960 Ettinger House, at the Nursing Department.


The student, after her preliminary term, was on duty on the wards for 8 hours a day, and two days off were given each week. The students spent six to eight months of their training on duty from 3:00pm to 11:00 pm, or 11:00pm to 7:00am. In the late 1950's, early 1960's, the students received $10.00 a month after the first six months; $13.00 per month in the second year and $15.00 a month in the third year. The students also received full maintenance and the laundering of their uniforms throughout their three years of study from the hospital.

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Capping Ceremony

Candle Lighting Ceremony; Group Photo, ca. 1950Capping was one of the highlights of students training. At this ceremony, students received their cap and bib and were receivedCapping Ceremony Cap Pinning, ca. 1960 into the School of Nursing. This took place after the first six months of training and in later years after the first five months. The official acceptance into the school and the recital of the school pledge were part of the ceremony. From 1948, it was held at Saint Andrews Church following the Sunday evening service. At one time, it was called the Candle Lighting Service as each student, after receiving her cap which was pinned by the Director of Nurses, had a candle lighted by senior students. A reception for newly capped students would be held in the residence, and then later for convenience at the Church Hall.


The day before a capping service was conductedCandle Holder and Candle (for Candle Lighting Ceremony), ca.1960 by the Gideon Society and held at theNurse's Cap, ca. 1960 hospital. At this time the representatives of the Gideon Society presented each student with white bibles. From 1964 on, students were received into the school by the Director of Nurses and took the school pledge.

Children's Hospital Nursing School Pledge, 1953

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Nurse's at Graduation Tea, ca. 1960The graduation ceremony at the the end of their three years was held every year in September at the Queen Elizabeth High School Auditorium. In earlier years, a tea was held for students and parents on the day of the graduation, and then later a reception would be held after graduation. In later years, a special service forGraduation Class, 1941 the graduating students was held in All Saint’s Cathedral. Following this ceremony, a uniform breakfast was held in the hospital cafeteria and this tradition continued until the final graduation.  Each student carried a dozen red roses or had a corsage, and there would be several prizes given out at graduation for qualities and excellence at everything ranging from bedside care to professional poise and academic performance. The total number of graduates between 1919 and 1971 was 801. 


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The Nurse's Residence


In the beginning, the student’s nurse’s quarters and the Superintendents suite were on the top floor of the hospital, which also contained the operating room and a classroom for nurses, plus a nurse’s sick bay. Later in the 1930’s, a nurse’s residence was constructed next to the Hospital and connected to it by tunnel. This residence was opened in 1931, and was named the O.E. Smith Residence in honor of Mr. Smith, who for years was president of the Board of Directors of the Hospital and who had donated money for building the new home.Halifax Children's Hospital Exterior, 1957


When the hospital increased in size, the nursing staff had to be increased too. This meant a larger student body. To house these students, a nurse’s residence was built on South Street at the rear of the Hospital property. The Residence was named “The Victoria Winslow Residence” after the first Superintendent of Nurses. The third year students would occupy the third floor, the second years to the first floor, and the second floor would be occupied by the new students.


Life In Residence, 1960


Nursing School Students Handbook and Constitution and By-Laws, 1953


When news came that the new Hospital would be built on the site of the Victoria Winslow Residence, arrangements had to be made for the students. The 12th floor of Park Victoria, on South Park Street, was rented and in 1966 students moved in. When the school decided to close, the funds from the Nova Scotia Hospital Insurance Commission were insufficient to house the students at Park Victoria, so the last students were housed at the Victoria General Hospital, under their schools rules and regulations. This move took place in August 1970. 


Students had very active social lives, and by the 1960’s the school had a very organized social program. It included activities such as bowling, swimming, soft ball, wiener roasts, dances, scavenger hunts tug of wars between students and instructors. There were also activitiesHalifax Childrens' Hospital Nurse's Residence, ca. 1960 used to raise money for the student association, including fudge sales, penny parades, spring bazaars, pantry sales and car washes. There was also the social side of training that students arranged for themselves, such as the half way party and the pink party. The hospital would also hold an annual Christmas party in which the nurses would participate, and each class would present a selection, the preliminaries would often choose the nativity scene. Carol singing for patients was also a great favorite and students would broadcast at least once on the air before Christmas. Singing for patients at the Civic and Rehabilitation Center was also carried out.     


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