Windsor’s Metropolitan Demonstration School and the Reform of Nursing Education in Canada, 1944–1970

Authored by: Steven Palmer

Routledge Handbook on the Global History of Nursing

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415594271
eBook ISBN: 9780203488515
Adobe ISBN: 9781135049751


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A 1948 feature in Toronto’s Star Weekly invited readers to contemplate a “quiet street in Windsor [where there] stands a dignified old stone house that could well become as symbolic to the nursing profession of Canada as Florence Nightingale.”The house in question was the first home of the Metropolitan School of Nursing, an experimental academy operated by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) between 1948 and 1952. 1 With core funding from the Canadian Red Cross, and a partnership with the Metropolitan Hospital of Windsor, Ontario, the CNA “demonstration school” was designed to show that an autonomous academic institution run by nurses could attract better candidates to the field than existing hospital-controlled schools, provide superior training, and produce professional nurses in less time. The CNA was confident that, if judged pedagogically successful, the experiment would entrench the legitimacy of academic instruction for nursing students, introduce elements of the university nursing curriculum into the standard model of nurse education, and fatally expose the administrative and pedagogical irrationality of the exploitative hospital schools that still monopolized registered nurse training in Canada. Along the way, it was hoped, permanent sources of funding would be found (most likely from government) to allow the school to carry on as a model and beacon for reform after its five-year experimental phase came to an end.

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