Former Registered Nurse
After gaining experience in the operating room and on medical and surgical floors while doing her residency at Port Chester, Jean Wilson graduated from Adelphi’s School of Nursing in 1948. After her time in New York, she found herself in different states such as Arizona, Florida, and Maryland. Her husband Howard’s job as a flight instructor for B-25 bomber pilots required significant travel. So, Ms. Wilson traveled with him. Nursing was the perfect career for a woman on the move. She recalls, “There was never a place I couldn’t work.” No matter where she traveled, Ms. Wilson found that she was able to get her license rapidly because nurses were in such demand.
For years, Ms. Wilson was a private duty nurse, intending to make enough money to raise kids. Eventually, she found herself back at school for public health, a program that interested her. Thereafter, she became a school nurse. This position was particularly appealing for Ms. Wilson for it allowed her to spend summers and weekends with her two children. Following 24 years as a school nurse, Ms. Wilson worked in a hospital until she retired.
Ms. Wilson enjoys being a “loafer” after a nursing career which spanned nearly 40 years. She appreciates her downtime, and loves living in California and travelling around the West Coast by car. She also enjoys flying to distant places – for free; just one of the perks of having a son who is a pilot!
When and why did you want to become a nurse?
Growing up in Franklin Square, New York I knew I wanted to continue on with my education and go to college. I always knew I wanted to be a nurse. I applied for the nursing program at Adelphi and was accepted.
Do you have favorite memories of your time at Adelphi and your residencies?
I tended to disobey the rules now and then. At one point during my time at Adelphi, I was going to be kicked out. Mildred Montag was stern and had some words for me, but she kept me in the program.
I remember how progressive we nurses were. We didn’t wear caps on our heads, and we split our aprons down the sides. Mildred Montag told us “out with the ugly shoes,” and we got more comfortable ones.
What are some changes you have seen in nursing throughout the years?
The nurse’s contact with the patient has decreased. I have seen it for myself, having been a patient in the hospital recently. You don’t even know who the nurse is sometimes. That’s not how it should be.
So much is different in today’s nursing regarding technology. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how to use all the machines that nurses operate on a daily basis.
What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?
You learn by doing.
Add engineering courses to the nursing program! Teach nursing students how to use all these new and confusing machines.