The nurses residence and school of nursing were opened in 1926. However, in 1921, Doctor Charles Barnes organized the first nurse training program. All subjects were taught by medical staff and the Assistant Matron. At this time all students were female and required to live within the residence. Their clinical practice was supervised by senior nurses. Amongst their many duties were keeping the patients clean, dressed, assisting with their meals as well as looking after soiled linen, garbage, washing, waxing and polishing the floors. Lectures continued for two years and in the third year the student nurse was now a senior and able to take charge of the ward.Students were paid $40.00 per month. In the 1930s and 1940s, the students graduated as Psychiatric Nurses. In 1949, the first male students were allowed to take classes with the females. It was not however until the early 1950s that a nurse, Margaret Solar, was specifically appointed as a nurse teacher for the school.In 1959 the block system of training commenced. This was the first move to prevent students from attending classes after working on the wards the same day. The class of 1963 was the first to graduate under this new scheme. In 1960 the Registered Psychiatric Nurses act came into existence. A minimum number of theoretical hours was established. Also, at this time a separate nurses library came into existence emphasis within the training program was “re-motivation” of chronic patients due to the advent of psychotropic medications which made the patients more accessible to their surroundings.
Dr Charles Barnes1920
In 1980 the new RPNA Act received Royal Assent which included responsibility for establishing and maintaining standards for psychiatric nursing education. However, in 1991 the Provincial budget discontinued funding for the Selkirk school and the last class to graduate was in July 1992. The preparation of psychiatric nurses was transferred to Brandon University for a 4 years undergraduate program.