"WRONG IDEAS" ABOUT WORK
By B.U.H. Looking rather shy, and feeling, no doubt, not a little strange in the unaccustomed atmosphere of a hospital, five girls in pink and blue uniforms sat in a class with several others, listening to a lecture by a sister in crisp white. It was their first day in hospital as part of that great army whose fight against disease is as vital as the soldiers' fight against the enemy. That was why they had been directed to the Green Lane and Cornwall Hospitals. Nursing was not their vocation (though in time it may prove to be for pome of them), but the urgent needs of wartime had sought them out from shops and beauty salons and offices, to relieve the acute shortage of nurses. None of the girls in the class had been there more than a few days, and the "training school" itself is only in its infancy. It has been established at the Cornwall Hospital so that girls from both hospitals may have a fortnight or more of lectures before they go on-duty in the wards.
Public's Misconceptions There are certain misconceptions in the minds of the public—and particularly in the minds of girls of 21 and 22, who are most affected— regarding the type of work they are required to do and the conditions under which they are directed. This prejudice has had an unfavourable effect on the calling-up of girls. Girls who are called up as nurse aids and auxiliary nurses are not required to peel potatoes and wash dishes: They feed and wash helpless patients, take drinks into the wards, and make beds. Nurse aids are more urgently needed than any other members of the staff. They are required to nurse chrcriic patients at Cornwall Hospital. Auxiliary nurses, "pinkies," as they are called, familiarly, perform the same type of service at Green Lane Hospital, but for "acute" cases, operation patients and others. However, these are not needed to the same extent as are nurse aids. Another point of which many girls still seem to be ignorant, in spite of repeated manpower statements, is that a directed employee's salary is made up to her existing wage, if the hospital salary is lower than what she normally receives. That means that no one, in whatever walk of life, need suffer a loss in wages because of direction to some other employment. Return to Own Occupation Most girls are aware that they are only required to work at the hospitals for one year, but many are afraid that they may be directed elsewhere at the end of their 52 weeks, instead of being allowed to return to their normal employment. Here again the Manpower Office gives an assurance that the girls will be able to re-establish themselves in their own occupation. That, it is considered, is only fair, in view of their service to the country. Moreover, the, printed manpower direction form states that the direction is for 52 weeks only. Although a number of girls have already begun work at the hospitals, more than 100 are still needed immediately at Cornwall .and Green Lane alone, apart from those required at the Auckland Hospital. Future requirements will be even greater, as more wards are being opened up all the time, and if these needs are not met tne public will suffer in the long run. <* Wardsmaids and kitchenmaids are also urgently needed to • carry out domestic tasks and some girls, it has been found, prefer this type of work to nursing.
A visit to the Cornwall and Green Lane Hospitals showed that the conditions under .which the girls are required to work are pleasant, even if there is a corridor three-quarters of a mile long at Cornwall! The wards are bright and the girls' bedrooms (they are required to live in) are attractive. Recreational facilities are excellent and arrangements are being made so that the girls can hold dances and give small parties. Already they are able to entertain their friends informally during the evenings. Girls' Health Benefits The hours, though they must necessarily follow certain restrictions, are quite reasonable. The girls work an eight-hour day and must be in by 11 p.m. normally, but late leave, dance leave and days off are quite liberal. Those in charge at-the hospitals have found that the regular hours and good food (the attractive diets are a specialty at these hospitals) have made a world of difference to the girls' health and have resulted in brighter cheeks and eyes. Not a few girls who were directed have decided that they would like to train as nurses and in such cases the way is always open for them. Almost all the girls who have been directed have settled down well and the majority find that nursing brings out womanly qualities in them which they had not known they possessed. In their sacrifice of their normal occupation for a period, these girls may feel recompensed in the knowledge that they are following quietly behind the Florence Nightingales, bearing not the famed Lamp, perhaps, but the small and faithful candle.
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SETTLING DOWN, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 183, 4 August 1945
SETTLING DOWN Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 183, 4 August 1945
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