This speech was read by Colleen Follett from the Class of February 1961 at their 50th Class Reunion during the annual VGH School of Nursing Alumane Luncheon on May 1, 2011. We are sure you will relate to her words!


What a process I remember it clear

Applications, papers, questions, and fears.

VGH held standards high

And so we were accepted with pride,

Though some were denied.

Then six months of class and a banquet of facts

We had to learn fast

Some could stay, some must go.

Then they said “now use what you know”.

Weeks into months into years and slowly we changed,

Our wards, our hats, our clothes, our shoes

And deep inside, we all changed too.

Thrown to the front line of life’s reality show

Privy to all its joys and woes

Our innocence we all outgrew

And a new knowing we pursued.

We walked on in white

We said good bye

Through tears and sighs

Keen to pursue our unique identity

Writing our own reality.



Fifty years ago to now

So much wisdom,

Knowing the good times and the strife.

We here are the perfect picture

Of what is a life.



How our world has changed,

New Nurses would think it strange,

The world we worked in then.

We carefully printed out cards for meds

We poured into cups on trays.

Sometimes pouring meds took over half a day.

Now no need to pour

A little bar coding machine

Spits out the meds

Knowing who and when and what for.

Remember the Bottles for IV’s, irrigations, and drains,

Glass syringes, needles and tubes used again and again.

Now a little machine times our IVs

We count drops no more.

Automatic vital signs a breeze,

IV and IM and SC are all done with ease

And there’s a plastic disposable world for our needs.

Our patient was with us for days or for weeks

We bathed them and fed them and made Bessie’s beds.

Now they‘re sent home in a day

Unless their near dead.

We sat in the office with a smoke and a coffee

And wrote all our info on chart after chart

Now the computer just opens its heart

And we point and we click that’s our part.

Now Smoking’s a crime though coffee’s still fine

We just have to be a techno Einstein.

The orderly was there to cath. and to carry

But he went extinct and left us all harried.

There’s lots of new meds with lots of new names

New meds Flossie could share with her flair.

She’d have solutions and dosages in spades to claim.



There’s lots of disease that new meds can repair.

MRSA, Aids, SARS, Legionnaire and West Nile

Potent Malarias and others quite Vile.

We crumble and clog if not given the meds

As Osteoporosis, and Cholesterol now something to dread.

We have new STDs and Viagra to please.

Everyday new maladies.

We also have Stents and defibs and pacemakers

To defy that ride to the undertaker.

There are mammograms, CT, MRI and PET scans

Fibre optics and scopes and little cameras to pan.

We have angio’s and bypasses, — new parts everywhere

From joints to organs there’s always a spare.

We don’t have death now unless the patient agrees

Then signs legal papers to set his soul free.



Is they have defined

A double helix that twists like a spine.

Wow –who knew?

That the DNA existed and the Genome too.

Now that presents possibilities,

Will a cell placed in us grow a part?

What is the state of this art?

Will a new part grow in a Petri dish?

Then there are all the fine designs

To satisfy the baby wish.

In-vitro they insert, in test tubes they will grow.

We freeze sperm and ovaries and embryos,

Why we can be cloned,

Now that‘s an idea –do it again

Correct the mistakes– a way to atone.



What future will we see?

We seem on the edge of remarkable ingenuity.

Will they unlock the riddle of age?

Will they make old bodies new?

Will we remain on life’s stage?

Then I’ll see you in 2061 and I’m happy to say

You’ll all be as youthful and beautiful as you are today.

After all in the last 50 years we‘ve come a long way.



Here’s to our 53 years of knowing each other.

And here’s to 50 more