Yes Sister, No Sister: Nursing a Leeds Nurse in the 1950s, published by Breedon Books, 2002, tells the story of a naïve, idealistic eighteen-year old who starts nurse training in 1952 at Leeds General Infirmary.
Two themes run through the book:
The first theme is the camaraderie among the student nurses who support each other, tell each other jokes and cope with their experiences by using typical Yorkshire humour. Their antics often elicit Matron’s ire. “Memo from Matron's Office: It has come to my attention that night staff are poaching eggs in sterilizers. This practice must cease forthwith. Only instruments and bowls are to be boiled in sterilizers.”
The second theme is the influence of the Sisters, who, for good or bad, control the lives of student nurses. “The Sister on the ward is known as the Dragon. One look at that frozen face and I know I am in for trouble.”
Nurse Ross grows from an innocent teenager into a professional nurse. During a period of disillusionment, she realises that the patients are her whole reason for enduring the hard, difficult work and she continues her training with renewed enthusiasm.
Throughout her training, Nurse Ross dreams of becoming a Ward Sister so that she can effect some changes in routine and procedure and thus relieve her frustration with the system. She fulfils this ambition but finds that changing the system brings not only joy but also recriminations. The story ends when she decides to immigrate to Canada.
The first edition can be obtained from these sellers