The Only Male Nurse at MD Anderson in 1970

Title

The Only Male Nurse at MD Anderson in 1970

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Identifier

BrewerC_01_20190516_Clip04

Publication Date

5-16-2019

Publisher

The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Transcript

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

Got you.

C.C. Brewer, RN, BSN, MS

But the actual nursing school is over here on Fannin. At that time, it wasn’t on Fannin, but it was—at the time, it was in the process of moving—had just moved to Houston in 1968, and I came... And I finished my lower division education at Prairie View in 1970. So I moved from preclinical to clinical in 1970 so that’s when I moved my family from Dallas—

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

Down to Houston.

C.C. Brewer, RN, BSN, MS

—to Houston in 1970. So work became not an option. It was never an option. (laughs) I applied for a position at MD Anderson, and since I had an LVN license, I had a dual role. I worked in whichever capacity was paying the most money at the time. So I went in as a student nurse because, at that time, MD Anderson didn’t have any male RNs.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

Hmm. Really, none?

C.C. Brewer, RN, BSN, MS

This is 1970. And they had male orderlies, and no male LVNs that I can recall, so I became the odd man out, right?

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

Yeah.

C.C. Brewer, RN, BSN, MS

So—

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

But you kind of like being that way, don’t you? (laughter)

C.C. Brewer, RN, BSN, MS

Now, I came into the profession at a good time.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

You did, a trailblazer in your own way.

C.C. Brewer, RN, BSN, MS

Uh-huh, right. And I—hired on as a student nurse because it paid more hourly salary than the LVN at that time. And during the summertime at the LVN role, well, allowed me to work more hours.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

Got you.

C.C. Brewer, RN, BSN, MS

So I switched up between LVN and RN for the—from 19—when I was in school.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

Now, a lot of individuals who go into nursing say that they have trouble getting their heads around the prospect of oncology nursing. What was your attitude about that at the time?

C.C. Brewer, RN, BSN, MS

My attitude about the cancer patients was not—I didn’t have an issue with that because in my exposure as an LVN during my LVN training in Dallas, I was exposed to a tremendous number of patients who were being treated for cancer. And remember in 1968, the treatment for cancer was quite radical, and radiation treatments were quite radical. So a lot of my LVN training was geared for caring for those patients. And when I came to MD Anderson, the transition wasn’t very easy and challenging, interesting, and opportunistic. I didn’t know it was opportunistic at that time, that I was a trailblazer in oncology and would continue to be. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

The Only Male Nurse at MD Anderson in 1970

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