UBC Archives Audio Recordings Collection

[Interview with Margaret Street, UBC Professors Emeriti Oral History Project, Part I] Carroll, Ann 1990-10-30

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Retired Professors Emeriti, U.B.C., Oral History Project: Interview by Ann Carroll, Archivist, U.B.C., Tuesday, October 30, 1990.
Cassette 1, Side 1, Tape 1
Ann Carroll: You started your professional life as a Manitoba high school teacher
in 1928. Could you tell me what made you end up pursuing a career in nursing? Who or what sparked your interest?
Margaret Street: A major factor in my decision to leave teaching and enter nursing was the difficulty I found with discipline. My education in a private girls' school and college had ill-prepared me to deal with adolescent boys. So 1n 1933, I applied for admission to the Royal Victoria Hospital School of Nursing, Montreal. My concept of nursing was that of a ministering profession in which one's services might be welcomed by the recipients, unlike that of teaching which so often seemed an uphill battle to instill knowledge in unwilling heads! As it turned out, my teaching qualifications and the scarcity of qualified teachers in nursing meant that much of my nursing practice following graduation was in the field of teaching and supervising nursing students. In that work, discipline was rarely a problem. On the contrary, I found the students generally a highly motivated and receptive group.
Ann: What education did you have to have to become a nurse?
Margaret: High school graduation was required. I myself had a B.A. (University of Manitoba) and a Collegiate Certificate in Teaching from the Provincial Normal School.
Ann: What made you come to UBC as an instructor in the School of Nursing in 1952? What were the circumstances of your hiring? Did you apply to UBC or did UBC approach you?
Margaret: Evelyn Mallory, Professor and Director of the School at that time, was an officer of the Canadian Nurses' Association, and I had come to know her at Executive Meetings of the Association, which I also attended as Executive Secretary of the Association of Nurses of the Province of Quebec. Miss Mallory knew that I was leaving the ANPQ in 1952 (having accepted the position in 1949 with the understanding that I would remain for a limited period only). I was anxious to return to Vancouver to be with my aging parents. So Miss Mallory invited me to come to the School of Nursing as a relief instructor for one year, to replace Beth McCann who was going on study leave. I was happy to accept- and during that year I lived with my parents.
Ann:  What course(s) did you teach? How big were your classes? What
building(s) did you teach in? Who were other professors in the
program that stand out in your mind? How was the nursing program
accepted on campus?
Margaret: That year, I taught medical-surgical nursing to students in the B.S.N. program - second or third year students - I don't clearly recall which. Classes were not large - possibly twenty, and were held in the Wesbrook Building, where the School was located - I seem to recall that I also taught an evening course in supervision for head nurses and supervisors in Vancouver hospitals, and this was given in a lecture theatre in the same building, and was attended by a large group. I very much enjoyed the association with Miss Mallory and other colleagues during that year : Ruth Morrison, whose area was public health nursing ; Margaret Duncan, teaching fundamentals of nursing ; Pauline Capelle whose area was Growth and Development ; and others. I'm sure the nursing program was well-accepted on campus-after thirty-two years of its presence at UBC, but this question did not occur to me at all!
Ann: What did you do in the years between when you were first hired at UBC (1952-1953) and when you came back as an assistant professor in the School of Nursing (1960-1972)?
Margaret: When I left UBC, I was immediately invited to the Calgary General Hospital by Gertrude Hall, Director of Nursing, a friend and former associate of mine. Gertrude had preceded me as Secretary-Registrar of the Manitoba Association of Registered Nurses, and it was upon her invitation that I had left my position at Misericordia Hospital in Winnipeg to assume that assignment. In Montreal, Gertrude and I had lived together while I was on staff at the Royal Victoria, and during the period of my service as Secretary-Registrar of the Quebec Nurses' Association. Gertrude was then General Secretary and National Nursing Adviser of the Canadian Nurses' Association. So we knew each other very well, both personally and professionally, and I held her in high regard as an outstanding nursing leader, and an exceptionally fine person with high professional ideals. So when she asked me to join her at the Calgary General in the capacity of clinical coordinator, I was happy to accept, and the ensuing years stand out in my memory as the happiest and most fulfilling of my career. In due course I became associate director of nursing. Because both the hospital and the school of nursing had had so many serious problems when Gertrude accepted the position as Director of Nursing, she was assured by the hospital board a free hand in upgrading both the nursing service and nursing education programs. To be able to plan and provide exemplary nursing care for patients and a fine educational program for nursing students was a challenge and a joy to all of us associated with Miss Hall in this enterprise. During those years, the UBC School of Nursing sent us a number of B.S.N. students for field work in nursing service administration and (I think) also teaching. I seem to recall that these were mainly graduate nurses enrolled in the degree program. When the Hospital Insurance Program came into effect in Alberta in 1959, the government very soon began to wonder why the costs of the Calgary general Hospital were so much higher than those of other hospitals. It became evident that the nursing department was the culprit. Despite efforts by the board of the city hospital and a numbers of trips by the chairman to Edmonton to interpret the nursing costs, in due course Miss Hall thought it wise to tender her resignation (in 1960) and I did, also, as the associate director of nursing. Gertrude advised me to go to Boston University to obtain a Master's degree in nursing service administration, so that the field of university service might open for me. I proceeded to do this. Tragically, Miss Hall died before she could leave the Calgary, General - suddenly, on the stage following the graduation ceremony of the School of Nursing.
Ann: What courses did you teach in the years 1960-1972? How big were your classes-and where were they held? Who were the other professors in the program that stand out in your mind and why do they?
Margaret: I was pleased to accept Miss Mallory's invitation to join the faculty in 196I, following completion of Master's studies at Boston University. I was to help in organizing and teaching a new diploma program for head nurses. It was hoped also that I would represent nursing in the planning committee, then composed of member of the Faculty of Medicine, for the proposed university hospital on campus. Dr. Macreary, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, wished to have a nurse on the planning committee. With this in view, he suggested to Miss Mallory that she and I take a tour of teaching hospitals in the United States, and he provided the financial means for us to do so. Miss Mallory called for me in Boston, and we had a fairly extensive but hurried tour which included : the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, Duke University, The Health Sciences Centre at Gainesville, Florida, and the university hospitals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. We noted aspects of planning hospital nursing units, and also of various university nursing programs. My first task upon arrival at UBC was to write a report of our observations for submission to the Dean of Medicine. After a delay of a year of more, I was appointed to the hospital planning committee, together with Glen Moir from the Faculty of Pharmacy. I don't know whether Glen felt as intimidated as I did at our first meeting with that group of eminent doctors. However, we were graciously received. Because it was proposed to computerize the new hospital, members of the planning committee were sent to a seminar given in Seattle by the IBM Company. This proved to be utterly confusing to me. In the early 1960's, computers were just beginning to make their presence felt in hospitals. Fortunately I was never called upon to help to make the nursing applications when, several years later, the university hospital became a reality. After the first section of the hospital was built - the psychiatric unit - the provincial government put the whole project on hold, doubtless because of a lack of funds. So the work of the planning committee was indefinitely suspended. However, Mr. Lloyd Detwiller carried on as a coordinator of the project, and occasionally in the following years, he called upon me for assistance, e.g. in forecasting the numbers and categories of nursing service personnel that would be needed for the University Hospital, and for advice about the adequacy of the plans from the point of view of nursing services.
Ann: Were your recommendations carried out?
Margaret: The only unit completed while I was associated with the project was the Psychiatric one, of which the planning was strongly controlled by Dr. Tyhurst, Chief of Psychiatry. My input, I recall, was not really requested. Regarding other sections of the hospital, resumption of planning was long delayed, and I believe earlier plans were shelved. Mr. Detwiller wrote to me on October 4, 1982, congratulating me upon my admission to the Order of Canada, and he referred to "the many pleasant hours we spent together developing the nursing budgets for the Hospital that took twenty years to build." The Hospital was opened many years after my retirement, and I was not associated in any way with the planning for its completion. Hopefully the School of Nursing was!
Ann: What was the School like when you came in 1961?
Margaret: In 1961, four programs were offered by the School of Nursing: a four-year basic degree program leading to the degree, Bachelor of Science in Nursing ; a three-year program for registered nurses, graduates of hospital schools of nursing, enabling them to qualify for the B.S.N. degree ; a one-year diploma program for registered nurses in public health nursing ; and the newly-established one-year diploma program for head nurses which I had been engaged to help implement. Gradually, over the next few years, the diploma programs were phased out, first in Public Health Nursing, then the one in Unit Administration. The faculty had become convinced that nurses practicing in these specialized areas should be qualified at least at the baccalaureate level ; and it was hoped that, as soon as feasible, a Master of Science in Nursing program would be established, for which a nucleus of faculty prepared at the doctoral level would be required. At that time, in Canada, there were no doctoral programs in nursing, and few at the Master's level. So one of Miss Mallory's primary objectives as Director must have been to help current faculty upgrade their qualifications, and to attract others, preferably with doctorates. A number of faculty members in this period, including some young graduates of the B.S.N. program, in turn were granted study leaves, and qualified at the Master's level. I should add that a diploma program in Psychiatric Nursing, under the direction of Margaret Neylan, a highly qualified nurse in this specialty was set up by the School of Nursing, to help meet the needs of the Psychiatric Unit at U.B.C., but this was of short duration. In 1967, Margaret Campbell had a three-year leave to study at Columbia University, which granted her a doctorate in 1970 in the fields of nursing education, with a focus in teaching and curriculum. Margaret returned to the faculty in 1970, and from that time until her retirement a few years ago she made a brilliant contribution, both as a teacher of teaching and a leader and guide in curriculum revision. Meantime, in the late 1960's, Dr. Margaret Francis was welcomed to the faculty, and then Dr. Floris King, whose task it became to give leadership in planning and implementing the Master of Science in Nursing program, which commenced in 1968, with six students enrolled. The M.S.N. program took root firmly, and flourished.
Ann: What courses did you teach? How big were your classes? What building(s) did you teach in?
Margaret: I taught a six-unit course in the diploma program in Nursing Unit Administration. Numbers of students enrolled averaged around 12. I was responsible for arranging field work for these students on an individual basis with various hospitals, including the Vancouver General, St. Paul's, Lions Gate, and in New Westminster, the Royal Columbian and St. Mary's. At one time or another, I also had field work students at Riverview. I found these community contacts very stimulating and I was given every assistance by the nursing directors, supervisors and head nurses in those institutions. I also taught a course in nursing service administration to 4th -year students in the B.S.N. program, a lively and challenging group, usually around 30 or 36 in number. When the Master's program began, I also taught nursing service administration in the first year of the program. Only one student elected this course, but even so I found it a challenge. The next year (1969) I went on sabbatical to carry out research into the life of Ethel Johns, and to write the book. Maude Dolphin had come on the faculty, a well-qualified and experienced nursing administrator, and she picked up the courses in administration. You have asked about the accommodation of the School of Nursing at that time. The School was situated on the second floor of the Wesbrook Building, below the student Hospital. Facilities included two classrooms, a lecture theatre, a demonstration room set up with hospital beds and equipment simulating a hospital ward, offices for faculty, a secretarial office, and a reading room with open shelves containing a small and inadequate collection of nursing texts and reference books. Members of faculty, including Miss Mallory felt that much more space was required, and over the years more than on brief was written pointing out the need for the School of Nursing to have its own building. Now, nearly thirty years later, this has not become a reality. When the Acute Care Unit of the University Hospital was built, provision was made for the School of Nursing (and also Rehabilitation Medicine) on an upper floor of the building. I have the impression some offices for faculty are located elsewhere. The School of Nursing, however, has the advantage of sharing with other health sciences the excellent instructional facilities of the Health Sciences Centre.
Ann: I gather that in 1952, the year you first came to UBC, the Department of Nursing became the School of Nursing. What did this change of name symbolize for the nursing program at UBC?
Margaret: I was unaware that such a change had been made, but I expect it may have been done to bring the nomenclature of this unit into line with others in the university, e.g. School of Music, School of Architecture. From the outset, nursing had been within the Faculty of Applied Science, which had provided a hospitable and supportive home. But in the early 1960's the nursing faculty was convinced that the School should be the Faculty of Nursing. Perhaps we felt that it was unfair that late-comers, Dentistry, Medicine, and Pharmacy, had all been granted status as faculties - and incidentally their own buildings. And I remember that we thought it would be advantageous for Nursing to have direct representation on the Senate. Again, briefs were written, very eloquent and we thought persuasive, but to no avail. Today, the School of Nursing is still a School within the Faculty of Applied Science. But in all fairness, it cannot be said to have suffered: the progress made in the last thirty years has been outstanding.
Ann: You spoke of your impression that the School reference library was inadequate. What happened about that?
Margaret: Well, having been a complainer,I was named convener of the Library Committee of the School of Nursing. I did understand, if not accept, that the dearth of books was directly related to the financial problems of the University and of the School of Nursing. This problem was well on the way to solution when the Woodward Biomedical Library opened in 1965. In the years to follow it became a tremendous resource for the School of Nursing. However, at the outset the Library Committee of the School of Nursing was somewhat aghast at the small number of nursing books in the Charles Woodward Memorial Room, and we thought we should make some recommendations for accessions to that area. Alice Baumgart, a young member of my committee, suggested that we seek the advice of Ethel Johns, the first Director of the School of Nursing, then retired and living in Vancouver. For many years prior to her retirement she had been Editor of the Canadian Nurse Journal and was well-known also as a writer. She had written the history of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and a delightful series called "Just Plain Nursing" published by Lippincott. I had known Miss Johns earlier in my own career, in Montreal, and had also visited her in her home in Vancouver. So I was pleased to visit her again, and to convey the request from the Library Committee. Miss Johns received me graciously, and, although she was not well, agreed to act in an advisory capacity "behind the scenes". Meantime, she made three suggestions : the history of the School of Nursing should be written ; research should be undertaken into the international influence of nurses from the Canadian west ; and the histories of other Canadian schools of nursing should be secured. Miss Johns then gave her own collection of nursing medals and awards for the Memorial Room, and these were duly presented several years later, at a ceremony on January 12, 1969, marking the Golden Jubilee of the School of Nursing and honoring the memory of its first Director.
Ann: In 1973 your book, 'Watch-fires on the Mountains: the Life and Writings of Ethel Johns' was published. Why did you choose to write about her and what first interested you in her?
Margaret: During the last three years or so of her life, I visited her at intervals She was very helpful in giving valuable information about the establishment of the nursing department at UDC - concerning which very little was in the School files. Miss Mallory encouraged me to seek Miss Johns' account of this history, and I later incorporated it in my book. But I had no intention of writing her biography, although I did ask her from time to time to tell me about her life. "That will come later," she said. And after her death, on September 2, 1968, several chapters of her autobiography came to light among her papers, and were turned over to me. Her executors asked me to review a large number of files found in a trunk in her home, to see whether they had historical value. When I examined them, I found they included all her research notes from the Johns Hopkins history project, and judged that they were very valuable indeed. I then sought permission from the executors to use them - and the autobiographical material - for the purpose of writing a biography. But this is a large subject, and I don't want to stray from the account of the School of Nursing as I found it in the 1960's. I should say that I have many happy memories of associations with many fine colleagues during my years at the School of Nursing : Evelyn Mallory, a good friend, Ruth Morrison, Beth McCann, Margaret Duncan, Margaret Campbell, Pauline Capelle, Betty Cawston, Alice Baumgart, Margaret Neylan, Helen Shore, Kirsten Weber, Maude Dolphin, Helen Niskala, and Rose Murakami, and others.
Ann: What influence on the program from your point of view did the three directors under whom you worked have on the strength and status of the program : Evelyn Mallory, Elizabeth McCann and Muriel Uprichard?
Margaret: Evelyn Mallory retired in 1967, having served for over twenty-five years as Professor and Director. In my opinion, her contribution was distinguished and significant. She gave strong leadership, and demonstrated courage and vision, especially in the challenging task of re-structuring the pattern of the B.S.N. program so as to integrate all aspects - clinical and academic - under the control of the University School of Nursing. To appreciate the difficulty which this presented, one must understand that the University of British Columbia pioneered the establishment of baccalaureate nursing education in Canada ; that it did so in 1919, upon the request of Dr. Malcolm MacEachern, administrator of the Vancouver General Hospital, who first proposed a "chair of nursing" for UBC ; that Ethel Johns was engaged in the dual capacity of Director of Nursing and of the School of Nursing at at the Vancouver General Hospital, and in charge of the new nursing department at U.B.C. ; and that the baccalaureate program as established was a combined course which comprised two years of university work, two years of nurse training at the affiliated Vancouver General Hospital, and a final year of academic study at the university. This was the so-called "sandwich pattern" for the degree program. Yet even under Miss Johns, it proved difficult to plan the hospital practice for the degree students, so as to protect their learning needs, without unfairly exploiting other students enrolled in the hospital school. Yet this pattern, with some modifications, continued for many years, and students successfully completing the baccalaureate program received not only the degree, but also the diploma of the Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing. History was made in Canada when in 1939 an independent school of nursing having a four-year integrated program leading to a baccalaureate degree in nursing was established at the University of Toronto, with the assistance of a large grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. This successful venture in basic university nursing education demonstrated beyond doubt that a better basic program could be given in fewer years when clinical aspects were integrated under the planning and supervision of the university. The School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia had never enjoyed such outside funding, yet it enjoyed a secure place within the Faculty of Applied Science, and was fortunate in the firm support given by the Dean, the President, and the School's Council. These were strengths which - together with a loyal and dedicated faculty - finally made it possible for Miss Mallory to win approval of an integrated four-year program by the year 1959. Sadly, this could not be accomplished, even after long and patient negotiations, without severing the long association with the Vancouver General Hospital and its School of Nursing. In that year, St. Paul's Hospital became the major clinical field for the hospital practice of the degree students, with the understanding that the university faculty would be responsible for planning and supervising that practice. Happily, while Miss Mallory was still Director, affiliation was re-established with the Vancouver General Hospital for clinical practice in special areas. Miss Mallory was a fine teacher, who inspired and challenged her students in the courses which she conducted, such as those concerned with trends and developments in nursing, and the responsibilities of professional nursing organizations. Students respected and loved her as, did the members of faculty For many of us, our concept of nursing as a profession was broadened by our contacts with Miss Mallory. I for one felt privileged to serve under her leadership. Elizabeth McCann influence on the program of the School of Nursing must have been substantial, because of her long tenure and close association with curriculum development through those years. But her major contribution, I think, was in her relationships with young students, and her teaching the fundamentals of nursing to them. Beth herself was an excellent nurse, and was able to infect students with the same devotion to patients as she had herself. She was a happy and buoyant person, with an outgoing personality, and was a good ambassador both on campus and in the broader community. She was interested in promoting alumnae activities, and kept the "alum" group alive and active when it seemed to falter. When the Canadian Conference of University Schools of Nursing came into being, Beth was a strong supporter and faithfully attended meetings wherever held in Canada. When Miss Mallory retired, Beth became Acting Director while a search was carried on to find a successor. She was in charge of the School when the M.S.N. program was launched in 1968, and as far as I could observe, kept School matters under control. She was very supportive of the Ethel Johns project which I commenced in the Fall of 1968, and of my application for sabbatical leave, 1970-1971. Beth's sudden and unexpected death, so short a time after her retirement, saddened all her former associates and students, the alumnae, the university community, and the community at large. A recent Newsletter of the Nursing Division of the UBC Alumni referred to a proposal of an Elizabeth Kenney McCann Chair in Nursing, which is to strengthen research and teaching in chronic illness. The alumni had already established a Memorial Scholarship in her name. she will long be remembered, as she should. Muriel Uprichard became Director in 1971, my final year before retirement, in 1972, and for that year I served as her assistant. Beth McCann was away on a well-deserved sabbatical. Almost immediately, Dr. Uprichard initiated a thoroughgoing study of the basic baccalaureate curriculum, and requested Dr. Margaret Campbell to head up a committee for this purpose. I think that this initiative was Dr. Uprichard's major contribution during her relatively short service as Director. This task of curriculum revision was very exacting and challenging, even exhausting. But in due course, Margaret Campbell and her committee produced an exemplary model for nursing and a curriculum based on that model. The significance of this achievement can scarcely be overstated, in its influence both upon the education of students, and upon the improvement of nursing care in the University Hospital. Dr. Campbell has told me recently, with much satisfaction, that the department of nursing of the Shaughnessy Hospital has announced the intention to implement this model of nursing. I'm not sure of the date of Dr. Uprichard's resignation, which I believe was due to illness. I was not in touch with the School at that time, but I understand that for a time there was an Acting Director. Dr. Marilyn Willman was appointed as Director in 1977, and under her leadership the School has made notable progress, and is very strong today, in terms of its faculty (42) of whom six hold doctorates, and the vitality of the programs, and the research activity.
Ann: When do you predict that a Ph.D. program will be introduced at UBC?
Margaret: The U.B.C. School of Nursing Council, in October 1989, submitted a Proposal for a Ph.D. Program in Nursing, of which the anticipated date of implementation is September 1991. Dr. Willman has told me that the proposal has passed two hurdles, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Curriculum Committee of the Senate, and that it will be presented to Senate late this Fall or early in the Spring. She is confident it will get under way next September as expected. Such a program should markedly increase and improve research directed toward developing the science of nursing and improving nursing care.


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