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Yvonne Vincent | Nurses Week | University of Rochester School of Nursing

  By Yvonne Carmel Vincent, ’47N
  Friday, May 5, 2017

Yvonne Carmel Vincent

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, I was a sophomore student in high school. This plunged us into World II with all the rest of the world. My two brothers joined the service, one in the Marines, the other in the Army Air Corps to become a fighter pilot. He never came back. It was a time of sadness, deprivation, and turmoil.

I had read about many of the nurses joining the Nurses Corps and going overseas to care for the wounded behind the lines and at the field hospitals. I felt I wanted to help any way I could. After graduating from high school, I decided to apply to nursing school. One of our doctors had done his orthopaedic residency at Strong Memorial, and recommended me for admission. I was accepted.

My schooling was a very educational time for me, and I was exposed to many different cases. The surgical wards received soldiers who had been wounded and would not return to battle. There were many Navy and Army medical students getting their education here.

The war was over when I graduated, but there was still much recovery to be done. Back home, I opted to work in the operating room. This continued my anatomy lessons, but most of all, it was about helping people get better, correcting injuries, and repairing problems.

My most astonishing experience was when a man with a smashed arm who had undergone surgery and debridement returned to have his cast removed and the wound checked.  After the cast was removed, we saw multiple maggots swarming in the wound, apparently eating all the dead flesh. The wound was a healthy red, and seemed on the way to healing — perhaps this was a precursor to using maggots to clean messy wounds.

I feel my nursing education has helped me in many ways, personally as well as professionally. I went back to nursing after my children were old enough, spending 20 years in the profession. I want to congratulate all the nursing students about to graduate. I wish them well in this service of helping others. It truly is better to help and give than to receive. Receiving usually follows.

Yvonne's story was shared with the UR School of Nursing as part of National Nurses Week.

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