Education, Nursing, Diploma Programs
Hospital diploma school nurses fell into a nebulous category. They had less academic preparation compared to baccalaureate trained nurses, but more clinical experience than nurses from two-year or four-year nursing programs. All nurses of this time period were stereotyped as having been "called" to be nurses, working as physician handmaidens incapable of independent thought or action. Diploma school nurses, however, continued to be labeled in this fashion over time, as they did not have formal training in critical thinking or problem solving skills. In addition, there is a paucity of information available on the history of white Southern women of this time period. White Southern women have been characterized as weak, passive, and incapable of independent thought or action.
The primary purpose of this research was to provide a sociological description and analysis of the training and subsequent work experiences of nurses in the state of North Carolina who received their training in hospital diploma programs, between 1945 and 1960. The sample of thirty white women attended nursing school in North Carolina from 1945-1960. Face-to-face and telephone interviews were done. Content analysis was performed on yearbooks and recruiting bulletins from this time period. While the majority of the women interviewed (60%) did feel themselves called to be nurses, such factors as finances, age, available educational opportunity, and gender restrictions based on the sociocultural climate were key considerations.