Appointment as Director of Special Studies – CNA

Now the study was completed, the report presented to membership at the 1960 Biennial

meeting, and three of the four recommendations were approved by the Executive Committee at

their post convention meeting. I was asked to stay on CNA staff for one more year to implement

the three recommendations of the Pilot Project.

I advised the Executive of my plans to return to Teachers College to complete my doctorate. I

knew my financial resources were very slim but I was determined to complete the remainder of

the two year doctoral study. They agreed that I should return to Teachers College for one

semester and, when needed, fly to CNA for meetings to implement the three projects. This I did.

The amount paid for those days at CNA assisted greatly in buying books and food. My return

trip to Teachers College was made with the now president Helen Carpenter, also a student at

Teachers College.

The 1960 biennial meeting was over and an exhilarated Helen started on her return to Teachers

College for the fall semester. She decided that the two Helens should go by bus to see the

Acadian country and visit her relatives in Yarmouth. On their arrival, however, Helen Carpenter

developed a serious chest condition and her uncle, a physician, ordered her to stay in bed. The

doctor, a delightful gentleman of 91 years, was still practicing medicine and administering

anaesthetics too. He told Helen Mussallem that he still used chloroform by the drip method. She

was duly impressed –and amazed. Helen stayed with the Carpenters for an extra day but, as

her friend was not improving, decided to try and figure out a way to get from Yarmouth to New

York in time for registration and classes. She took the ferry to Portland Maine, getting incredibly

seasick on the voyage, and eventually, via bus and train, made it to Whittier Hall in New York.

Whittier Hall was strictly a women’s residence, but Helen chose to live there so she would not

be distracted by the many social activities at International House, and besides, she was closer

to the library. Studying at the doctoral level was going to be a full-time job –especially as Dr.

Anderson had mapped out a plan “to get her through” as quickly as possible. Helen was aware

of her many commitments in Canada. She had completed one semester and was now returning

for the second. She would then return to Canada for one year to collect data for her dissertation

and carry out her new responsibilities as Director of Special Studies tor CNA, including

implementation of three of the four recommendations of the Pilot Project.

5.2.2 Development of Plan to Implement 3 of 4 recommendations of Pilot Project

On her return to Canada, project directors were recruited. Dr. Kaspar Naegle was engaged as

Project Director for;

– Recommendation 1: “That a re-examination

and study of the whole field of nursing

education be undertaken”.

– Recommendation 2: “That a school improvement program be initiated to assist schools in

upgrading their educational programs.”

Helen recruited Glenna Rowsell, already on CNA staff. Lillian Campion was persuaded to

assume the position of Project Director to implement

– Recommendation 3: “That a program be established for evaluating the quality of nursing

service in areas where students in schools of nursing receive their clinical experience”. As

Director of Special Studies, Helen was responsible for the overall supervision of these projects.

– Recommendation 4: “That a program of accreditation for schools of nursing be developed

by the Canadian Nurses Association” was held in abeyance pending completion of the other

three projects.

5.3 Royal Commission

5.3.1 CNA Project and RCHS project on Nursing Education combined

At this time, there was also general concern about the whole health care system. In 1961, a

Royal Commission on Health Services was established with Justice Emmett Hall as Chair. It

was the Commission’s intention to include an examination of the whole field of nursing and

nursing education. It seemed logical, therefore, that Recommendation 1 on the whole field of

nursing education be assumed by the person carrying out the examination for the Royal

Commission. Dr. Naegle was a superb sociologist and scholar and Helen was delighted that he

would be directing the project on nursing education for both CNA and the RCHS.

5.3.2 Royal Commission on Health Services Project Director

The study for the Royal Commission on Health Services in Canada was an exciting and

rewarding experience for Helen. The territory was familiar, but greatly expanded, from the report

of the Pilot Project. It included not only diploma schools of nursing but university schools,

nursing assistant programs, psychiatric nurse programs, operating room technician programs

and midwifery courses. She especially enjoyed the field work which required many trips across

Canada and her working relationship with researchers and RCHS staff, to whom she was

responsible. Helen had been seconded to the RCHS by CNA from the summer of 1962 to May

of 1963. The final report was published in 1964.

During the summer of 1962, CNA received a grant from Kellogg to create a Foundation and

award fellowships. Applications were received from students and immediate awards needed to

be made or the money for the current year would be lost. Katherine McLaggan, the prime mover

in obtaining the grant, was responsible for forming a Selections Committee and, as it was

August and no one else was readily available to meet with a committee, Helen was recruited.

She met with Katherine in her room at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa where all the student

applicant files were piled on the bed. While they were developing selection criteria for the

awards, Helen was called to the Daly Building to meet with the Director of Research for the

Royal Commission on Health Services and sign the contract for her study. While there, she met

Mr. B. Blishen, Director of Research and Dr. Malcolm Taylor, Research Consultant. Dr. Taylor

wished to speak with her at length and seemed slightly annoyed when Helen told him of her

other responsibilities with Katherine McLaggan. When she related her encounter with Dr. Taylor

to Katherine, she was told to phone him immediately and invite him to dinner. As he was

already booked for dinner, Helen invited him to the Jasper Lounge for cocktails, where

Katherine McLaggan used the encounter to great advantage, immersing him in the grave

problems of nursing education. Helen’s role was to see that drinks were served without question

and to be discreet about paying the bill. This being the pre-credit card era, she gave the waiter a

$10 bill –ample for drinks in those days. She instructed the waiter carefully to serve as many

drinks as requested. He did –but only one each –and, before Helen could get up to retrieve her

change, minus tip, he brought the change to their table and plunked it down in front of her.

Helen was so embarrassed and Dr. Taylor was not amused. In those days, men always looked

after the bill. After the drinks fiasco and dinner, Helen and Katherine went for a walk through the

quiet Ottawa streets. Helen asked if Katherine had ever seen the face of the nurse at the back

of the War Memorial. She hadn’t, so they scrunched around to get a

better view. Just as Helen was pushing Katherine up the monument for a better look, the loud

voice of a policeman shouted, “You ladies get down immediately or I will turn you in!” They both

slid down ignominiously and vanished into the night. Up to the time she died, Katherine would

recall this incident with great glee.

During this period, and on into the 70s, Helen received many offers to assume the deanship of a

university school of nursing or to become director of nursing at several large hospitals. She

found only one offer tempting –to be director of the School of Nursing at the University of British

Columbia. Even though CNA was planning to host the 1969 International Council of Nurses

Congress in Montreal, Helen was assured CNA would wait for her. Negotiations continued.

As the School of Nursing had been on the UBC campus since 1916 and as two other health

science faculties had been created at the university, the faculties of medicine and pharmacy,

one of Helen’s requirements, an important one, was that the UBC School of Nursing also

become a faculty. The negotiator sadly advised her that no change could be made as there

already were too many faculties on campus. Finally, he arrived with what he termed “good

news”. The Board of Governors had agreed that if Helen returned to UBC, the School of

Nursing would become a faculty. Helen was delighted and asked to have the promise in writing.

This was impossible as the Board of Governors did not write such letters relating to the hiring of

faculty! So Helen never accepted the UBC position and often wonders, if she had, what a

different life she might have led. But that’s skipping way ahead of 1962. Let’s back up.

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