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A Significant Medical History

Among the many changes in nursing since 1948, the departure of matrons from our hospitals is one which was pioneered in Glasgow. In the 1960s Miss Anne Court-Brown, Matron of the Royal Infirmary, introduced the first pilot scheme under which grades (related to actual duties carried out) replaced the old hierarchy with matron at the top.

As healthcare has become ever more scientific and technical, the work of nurses has changed enormously. Nurse training based on ‘hands-on’ experience in the hospitals has gradually been replaced by theoretical nurse education based in colleges and universities. An important early experiment in nurse education was carried out in Glasgow.

In 1957, Miss Edith Manners launched the Glasgow Royal Infirmary experimental course of training for nurses. The course was designed so that the students could sit State Registration examinations after only two years - one year shorter than the normal course. The students spent less time in hospital wards and did less practical work than the ordinary trainees. They were highly successful when they sat their examinations.

Their practical abilities on the wards were then developed during an ‘intern’ year. The experiment achieved many of its objectives. For example, the ‘drop-out’ rate was cut and the scheme succeeded in attracting high scoring school leavers. Most importantly, the experimental course provided valuable lessons on which latter developments were based.

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