Our Stories: 1970's


Collective Account submitted by:
Adrienne Ames, Nancy McCloskey Jantz, Sara Hampshire, Mary Roberts Baysinger, and Shirley Caldwell, Family Nurse Practitioner, Class of 1975

We were a class of 15 who met each other at the end of August in the Godchaux Hall living room. During orientation, Associate Dean S Getchel told us we would make friends for life with some of our classmates. We smiled at each when she made the comment, but during lunch we agreed we already had made lifelong friends. The beginning of our program was full of firsts, including classmate Sara Hampshire who was a Nashville-native, inviting those of use who were new to Nashville to have lunch at Ireland’s on 21st to get some Southern steak and biscuits. Although it was the first time for such food for some of us, it wouldn’t be the last!

The first semester was all class time, so we were together 35 to 40 hours each week. We all recall being shocked at the old hospital, the four-bed wards, cloth curtains, etc. but the new hospital was built soon after. At that time, we also met as a class with administrators, because we had a six credit course called Communication that included our Physical Assessment course as well as our Primary Care course. We felt that our transcript wouldn't reflect adequately the courses that we took because it was pretty rigorous. However, our courses prepared us well because no one had trouble when they went on to graduate work or into practice.

While we were students, the student lounge was a small, windowless room in the basement of Godchaux Hall. We carried all or our books with us wherever we went and lugged them back and forth from our cars. Some of our group had VA internships and therefore were able to park in the VA lot which was a bit closer. Even though the books were heavy and the walks to our cars could seem very long, that walking time was a big part of our developing friendships.

The idea of a nurse practitioner was an entirely new concept in the United States at the time. Ken Wallston, Ph.D., tested us during various intervals throughout our VUSN experience to find out just which kinds of nurses were choosing to become nurse practitioners (they called us clinicians in those days).

During our education, all of my classmates and I were struck with how we began to develop collegial relationships with doctors. We were the first nurse practitioners to spend time with many of these doctors who were our preceptors, so the doctors had to learn about our new role as well. Some were fearful of the concept and of us. Others accepted us readily and supported us. I remember doctors in the Vanderbilt Clinic who gave three of us who were preparing for the first certification exam extra time at the end of several days. They quizzed us, answered questions for us, and generally helped us prepare for the exam. I’m happy to say we all passed.

When we look back on those years, they were a launching point for each of us in so many different ways in our careers and in our lives. Just like Associate Dean Getchel said, many of us remained friends for more than 30 years and are going strong.


Robin Diamond, MSN 1978

I attended VUSN between 1978 and 1980. I can remember a lot about that almost-two-year-span. I remember how gorgeous the campus was with the gold and red leaves in the fall and the magnolias in the summer. I remember Godchaux Hall – with lots of voices and laughter – not the silence of the computer e-mail age.

I remember some of the restaurants that are no longer there – a great Italian restaurant across 21st and the Steak and Biscuits place with an Irish flair.

Of course, I also remember being nervous about being in graduate school since I had just graduated from East Tennessee State in 1977.

But, most of all, I remember the friends and faculty I met there who not only made me feel welcome and special, but who also became my family when a personal crisis took over my life. Without their caring and their gentle pushing, I would not have been able to complete my education at a time when I really needed to succeed. 

Even though almost 30 years have passed and I live 1500 miles away, my connection to the School, the friends I made there, and my pride surrounding the accomplishment of being awarded a degree from Vanderbilt University are never too far away.