“A smile in snowy white and strength in a starched skirt”
Pirozzi chuckled when she acknowledged how clearly her yearbook reflected very different times — and attitudes — in hospitals:
“Doctors yell at them, interns tolerate them and patients love them,” continued the yearbook poem. “A student nurse likes…pretty clothes…and Mom and Dad...She is a wonderful creature…your living symbol of faith and sympathetic care.”
In the 1960s, Pirozzi explained, slim velvet bands on white caps were significant to anyone in healthcare: Ribbons on the sides identified a junior in nursing school; a full band meant the wearer had an RN degree.
In 1965, Pirozzi began working at Upstate‘s downtown hospital. At the time, intensive care units were new, and she chose to work in that specialized area for close to 15 years.
At the same time, SUNY Upstate Medical Center (as it was known in the 1960s) offered associate‘s degree programs for nurses. Today, Upstate‘s College of Nursing offers bachelor and master of science degrees, post-masters certification, and doctorates of nursing practice. (In May 2014, the university awarded 154 nursing degrees and four post-masters certificates.)
What does she think about Upstate today?
“The children‘s hospital, the new cancer center, the cord blood center," smiled Pirozzi, “are all very much needed.”
Thank you to Kristin Bruce of Upstate‘s Volunteer Services for connecting Jean Farmer Pirozzi with the hospital anniversary committee.