When Emily began her nursing career she was already 25 years old. It was the lower age limit at the time. Below is a nice example of the criteria of the day for the nursing vocation:


Women desirous of being trained as Hospital, District and Private Nurses, should apply to the Lady Superintendent of Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital; and if suitable, they will be received as Probationers under the following arrangements:-

1. Must pay an Entrance Fee.

2. Must be from twenty-three to thirty years of age.

3. Must read and write well, and bring testimonials of  good character.

4. They will only be received on the distinct understanding that they remain three months: subject, however to the approval of the Lady Superintendent at the end of one month, when if they are considered unsuitable to train, their services will no longer be required.

5. At the expiration of three months, if retained they will be provided with indoor uniform clothing.

6. The Probationers and Nurses will be required to wear the uniform clothing while at the Home or on duty elsewhere. Their outdoor uniform they will provide themselves.

7. If found efficient at the end of three months the following scale of wages will begin:- First year, £10; to be increased £2 every year during the term of training.

8. It is expected that at the end of eighteen months the Probationers will be fitted for Nurses, and heir engagement will then require them to serve two years and six months more in Hospital, District, or Private Nursing; to sick among the rich or the poor whenever called upon to do so.

9. At the expiration of three months from date of entry, every Probationer will be required to write a letter to the following effect:-

“To the BOARD OF GOVERNORS of Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital.
“GENTLEMEN, – Having now become practically acquainted with the duties of a Nurse, I am satisfied that I shall be able and willing, on the completion of my training, to enter into service as a Nurse in an Hospital, District or in Private Houses; and I promise to continue in such service for the space of at least two and a-half years afterwards, in whatever situation the Lady Superintendent shall thin suitable to my abilities.
I am, Gentlemen,…”


Image courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Image courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, End of Year Report 1889-1899, p47.