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7 Nursing Training and Career Memories Stories in this chapter describe numerous reasons for acquiring a nursing education and how individual nurses moved along with their career activities. Most anticipated that they would earn a nice salary, but they also wanted to help patients in need of serious, dedicated services. Numerous nurses describe their work teaching in nurse-training schools. While most students were highly interested in earning good grades so as to obtain good jobs, some lost interest during the educational process. Some women talk about feeling the need for nurse training so as to properly raise their own children. The bulk of the stories in this chapter, however, describe the routine work of nurses, such as giving a patient a final bath, delivering babies, teaching and working with midwives, or taking children to a neighbor’s house in order to allow their mother privacy during the delivery of a baby, as well as deaths and burials. Keynote Address to Other Nurses When Kay Heady called to invite me to share my story at this annual luncheon of community health nurses, May 11, 2010, I said, “What an honor to be invited to speak to a group of community health nurses! Stand up and I will tell you why I think this is an honor. It is an honor because community health nurses are the salt of the earth, the sun in the sky, rain that washes away unwanted dust, and the rainbow that breaks forth after the storm.” As I reflected on my nursing background and journey I learned it was difficult to totally separate my life journey from my nursing story. The truth is that our nursing stories intertwine with the life we live; that includes where and to whom we were born, how we lived, and how we learned to interpret life events, and [it] shape[s] who we are as 134 Tales from Kentucky Nurses nurses today. So I’ll begin with my early voices that continue to lie at the center of my heart. First, I am a Kentuckian, born in a small town called Morganfield. I love Kentucky, but as an adult I traveled and searched for a more magical place to live. However, the more I traveled, the more I knew that Kentucky, with all its faults, was the place I dearly loved and the place I wanted to be. Second, I am a farmer. When I was six years old my father, mother, and four siblings moved to a farm in Waverly, Kentucky. . . . My grandfather, who was orphaned when he was thirteen, traveled to Morganfield and became a wealthy man during the war [World War II], when his small cleaning and pressing shop was the only place in town for the nearby Camp Breckinridge soldiers. . . . Because of the land we owned we were considered among the wealthy in our small communities, but wealthy farmers had no money and no things that gave them status. . . . Wealth meant good weather, nourishing food, and friends who joined together in gatherings during the bad weather that stole the fruits of our work. Entertainment was what we could creatively imagine and do where we lived, and I can tell you that my friends imagined a lot! On the farm I learned the celebration of birth in the spring and acceptance of death that inevitably came. From my grandparents, who were good and honest people, . . . I learned what life could and should be. Their steady values and commitment were planted in my being and carried me through life. Early on, I knew I had to be a healer. I know that for as long as I can remember the feeling was always there. When I saw a person or animal in pain I knew I had to stay until we could heal or bless the life that was fading. I wonder if there is a genetic influence that selects us as nurses, physicians, and other healers. From the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth who taught me for twelve years at St. Vincent Academy I learned that all life is precious, all life deserves respect, and that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. . . . Rural Kentucky was a good place to live as a child or teen, but once past that time the opportunities were few. . . . My mother believed women should not work. I thought about going to a secretarial school in Evansville, but the bishop told my parents I would go to hell because it was not...


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