Nostalgia: The first days of study at Kirkcaldy’s new nursing college

Student Nurse Deirdre Duncan practices CPR at the new College of Nursing and Midwifery in Kirkcaldy in 1987
Student Nurse Deirdre Duncan practices CPR at the new College of Nursing and Midwifery in Kirkcaldy in 1987

In January 1987 the Fife Free Press was given a behind the scenes look at the new Fife College of Nursing and Midwifery.

Hosting the tour was David S. Muir, director of nurse education, who proudly took the Press around the £3 million complex, which also included 100 residential places for student nurses choosing to live in Kirkcaldy.

Student Nurses in one of the classrooms at the new college

Student Nurses in one of the classrooms at the new college

The building in Forth Avenue, chosen specifically to be close by the railway station, replaced the old facility that was situated in the grounds of Victoria Hospital.

The building catered for 520 student nurses, as well as 60 student midwives, and was equipped with the most modern of 1980s teaching aids, including computers, video facilities and a 99-seat lecture theatre.

The building also included a laboratory, a computer room, a library and 11 classrooms.

Nurses from all over Fife, as well as some from abroad attended the college, only a third of a their time was spent in the building, the remainder being occupied by clinical practice in the hospitals.

“The wards are an integral part of the training,” said Mr Muir.

“Nursing is both an art and a science, and while we can teach the science of nursing here in the college building, the only place they can practise the art of nursing is in the hospital and community situation.”

Fife College of Nursing and Midwifery had an enviable training record, taking nurses mainly from the region, but also from all corners of the world, and achieving a 100 per cent pass rate in the mid-’80s.

There were four intakes each year for student midwives and for first level students, two intakes a year.

Mr Muir stressed that neither sex nor age was discriminated against.

“Age is not a barrier,” he said, “and we are very happy to accept mature students.

“The same goes for male students. Nursing has traditionally been a woman’s career, but we need male nurses, who are every bit as valuable.”

The only area of training not covered by the college was in sick children’s nursing, because of a lack of sufficient hospital facilities in Fife, but general, mental and mental handicap nursing was taught, alongside midwifery. “We have no real shortage of students coming in for general nursing,” said Mr Muir, ”but we would really like to recruit more for mental and mental handicap nursing.”

He concluded: “We liaise very closely with the hospitals in Fife, and at present there is a very high expectancy of all those coming off our courses achieving posts within the region.”

The facility is now owned and run by Dundee University.