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100 years ago in Spokane: At Sacred Heart graduation, doctor encourages new nurses to join war effort

The Sacred Heart Hospital nursing school graduated 21 nurses, and at a graduation ceremony Dr. William O’Shea told them they should offer their services to the country as soon as possible, The Spokesmna-Review reported on May 23, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The Sacred Heart Hospital nursing school graduated 21 nurses, and at a graduation ceremony Dr. William O’Shea told them they should offer their services to the country as soon as possible, The Spokesmna-Review reported on May 23, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The Sacred Heart Hospital nursing school graduated 21 nurses – at a time when nurses were in exceptionally high demand.

Dr. William O’Shea, who presented the diplomas, told the graduates they should offer their services to the country as soon as possible.

“You little realized what you were undertaking three years ago when you went into training,” O’Shea said. “I congratulate you on your selection. There is no nobler profession than the medical profession, and by the medical profession I mean you as an integral part.”

Another speaker, Dr. H.S. Martin, said many people in Spokane did not realize what a remarkable institution the city had in Sacred Heart Hospital.

“They have 500 to feed every day and Sunday,” he said. “They have an ice plant, a bakery and many other things. You see, they just turn out happiness in there, and turn out nurses as a by-product.”

Martin said the entrance qualifications for nurses were stringent and the training was even more rigorous. He then read off a list of the qualifications.

“You see, that cuts out all the dried-up, ugly people like me,” he said. “Yes, and if a girl talks too much to some young doctor, out she goes. Do you not see what a sifting process these girls have gone through? Now, let’s just stand up and give them welcome.”

Another speaker declared that they were graduating at a time when “there is nothing more honored as the nurse’s uniform.”


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