Interview with Clare Dennison


Interview with Clare Dennison






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Dennison, Claire


Announcer: We introduce Miss Clare Dennison, Director of the School of Nursing of the University of Rochester.

Dennison: When a girl sets out to choose a career, one of the questions she naturally asks is, what about security of employment? After I've completed my study and training, will there be a job awaiting me? Will it offer opportunity for advancement? Will the work be interesting? One of the few professions in which the answer to all these questions is an unqualified "yes" is nursing. This is particularly true if a technical training is supplemented by General Education of college grade. For the young woman who has both a college degree and professional training in nursing, there now opens an ever widening opportunity to qualify not only for [stock work?], but for executive and teaching positions of all kinds. Schools of nursing of collegiate grade are a relatively recent development in American education. But the field is rapidly expanding. Programs leading to science degrees with a major in nursing are now being offered in the universities of Oregon, Chicago, Virginia, Washington, Michigan, California, Rochester, Yale, West Missouri, Duke, Vanderbilt, and Catholic University, and at Skidmore, and Simmons colleges.
As an example of how these courses are organized, I might cite our own course at the University of Rochester, where we have a five year program, leading to a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in nursing. Matriculants. This combined course meet the same admission requirements as any other student in the College for Women. At the end of the regular freshman and sophomore years, we have a special summer session of six weeks, during which the student goes directly to the School of Nursing for instruction in nursing arts, history of nursing, and community hygiene. The main advantage of these preliminary summer sessions is that the student has chance to judge whether or not nursing is the work in which she's likely to find satisfaction. If you discover that she does not enjoy the work or seems unfitted for it, she may change her major after the first, second, or even her third year. Within certain limits, it is also possible to enter the nursing program after the first or second college year. Our experience has been that last year for example, all the students who are graduated from the degree course in nursing had positions waiting for them. Furthermore, it would have been equally easy to find places for five times that number of young women with their personal and professional qualifications. We find that there are never enough nurses prepared to undertake the responsibilities carried by the directors and assistant directors of nursing schools and comparatively few for the less difficult but most interesting work of a head nurse in a hospital ward. In the last two years, nearly all hospitals have reported great shortage of staff nurses.
The field of teaching in nursing schools is large and growing rapidly. Such positions as dean or principal of a school of nursing, education director, clinical instructor and instructor in science or nursing arts call for special preparation in which the Bachelor of Science degree is basic. At the present time, there are many more such vacancies than candidates. These positions offer a very good salary, absorbing work, and considerable security with opportunity for advancement.
Thousands of nurses are needed in public health work. The public health nurse in her blue uniform works with public and private, county, state and city agencies, teaching individuals and communities how to become well and keep well. Private industries, factories, and commercial establishments of all kinds need nurses in their health service. In many places, the nurse is in charge of sanitation, ventilation, food inspection, recreation and health instruction, family welfare work, and is regarded by the company as a valued executive. The Army and Navy employ thousands of nurses in fascinating branches of work. Members of the Army Nurse Corps enter the corps with a relative rank of second lieutenant. And after one year of service in the United States, maybe assigned a Foreign Service in China, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the Philippines. Members of the Navy Nurse Corps teach nursing procedures to the men in the Navy Hospital Corps and to the native women in foreign possessions. These posts in the Army and Navy carry the added attractions of long leaves and pensions on retirement. The federal government uses nurses in the United States Public Health Service in both the domestic and foreign divisions in the Veteran's Administration and in the children's federal bureau.
For the adventurous spirit, there's always missionary work for nurses in foreign lands. One of the newest of all branches of nursing has developed with public transportation companies, steamships, railroads and airlines. Hostess of the sky is a phrase of the last decade, and the uniform with a nurse in the airlines is the last to be added to a long list that began hundreds of years ago.
Here at the University of Rochester, we try to keep in close touch with nurses actively at work in the field. And our observation leads us to believe that the need for well-prepared people in nursing will probably increase. Success depends upon many personal [attitudes?] in addition to the increasing call for sound educational background. These facts constitute both an opportunity and a challenge for the college-trained woman and to the thoughtful student who plans to make her college education the basis of a useful career.



Dennison, Clare, “Interview with Clare Dennison,” RBSCP Exhibits, accessed July 20, 2024,

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