Sunday, March 7, 2021

Cadet Nurse Carrie

Today, March 7, 2021, would be my mom’s 95th birthday.  She died 20 years ago but I treasure my memories of her and the stories she shared.  This blog post recounts her path to becoming a registered nurse. 

She graduated from Millers Creek High School in Wilkes County, N.C., in April 1943.[1]  Her high school transcript says[2] “Excellent character, dependable, industrious, high morals and good home environment.”

Carrie’s high school graduation, 1943

 Limited options for girls included marriage, teaching, secretarial work, and nursing.  Carrie decided to become a registered nurse but had to figure out how to pay for her education.  She stayed home for a year and took the bus to a job at Wilkes Hosiery Mill.[3]  She saved her money but it was not enough for nursing school.  She learned that the U.S. government paid for nurse training in return for military service.

 “Public health administrators as well as the American public believed that the increasing demands of the U.S. armed forces for nurses were responsible for a shortage of civilian nurses. Responding to these concerns in June 1943, Congress passed the Bolton Act, which set up the Cadet Nurse Corps program.

The U.S. government subsidized the education of nursing students who promised that following graduation they would engage in essential military or civilian nursing for the duration of the war…

… The Cadet Nurse Corps training program was extremely successful and enjoyed enthusiastic public support. By 1948 when the program was discontinued, more than 150,000 nurse graduates testified to its value.”[4]

Carrie applied for the Cadet Nurse Corps program and attended Grace Hospital School of Nursing[5] in Morganton, N.C., only 50 miles from Millers Creek.  Her ID card is shown below.[6]  It took three years to become a Registered Nurse.

Carrie mentioned in newspaper in 1944


Cadet Nurse Corps card


Her high school chemistry teacher had been drafted, so Carrie had to take high school chemistry while attending nursing school. Fortunately, the high school was just across the street!