Greene County Arkansas

Northeast Arkansas


October 13, 1989


Medicine changes, but dedication of nurses is a constant


First nurse's director at AMH facility remembers 50 years in her profession


By Pauline Linam Tribune staff writer


   Nursing may have come a  long way since the early 1900s, but dedication to the patients has remained constant.

   When Janette Beadles of Paragould graduated from nursing school in Peoria, Ill., in 1935, her goal was to take care of the sick. During her first three months of hospital training she received only room, board and laundry. After probation her pay went to $6 a month and increased each year. Her final year in training in 1935 she received $10 a month.

    "Back in those days you could buy a nice pair of shoes for 99 cents and a cotton dress around 50 cents," she said.

     Her training lasted from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. The nurses only had from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to do what they wanted because the rest of the time was needed to study. At exactly 10 p.m. the house mother would shut the lights off.

     "I remember the training was tough," she said, adding that whe was determind to "stick it out."   


She learned early in life from her family that a career was important. In the years of the Depression, her father lost most of his money but he had always wanted his children to make something of themselves.

   "I wanted to be somebody," she stressed. So, Beadles began a 50 year career in nursing.

   When her husband's father died, they decided to move back to Arkansas. From 1943 to 1945, she worked at a private hospital in Paragould. The hospital was located where the Catholic school on Second Street is now.

In 1945, she moved to the Dickson Memorial Hospital as a supervisor of nursing. However, Beadles found that many of the nurses didn't have a degree, and their training came from on the job.

She said the nurses really didn't have much to work with at the hospital.

     "We didn't have the medicine of today." she said, adding that what was used consisted of  aspirin, morphine and camphorated oil.

  "When people would get pneumonia, they would have to wait it out," she said.  "If they could make it to the ninth day then would live. A lot of the times all we could do for anyone is pray."

     She said she remembers having to run up and down the hospital steps. The elevator was run by ropes.

    "I'd have to put my gloves on and start pulling." she recalled.  "I've hauled a lot of people up and down. I guess I developed good muscles, too."

    When the Dickson Memorial Hospital moved in 1949, she joined the Community Methodist Hospital, what is now Arkansas Methodist Hosptal, as director of nurses.

  " When I walked into the new hospital, I felt like I was walking into the Waldorf Astoria," Beadles said laughing.

    She said she recalls everything being so easy and convenient. However, the patients were all given the best of care in both places. She said nurses don't look after strangers. Patients, she added, are not just a chart number.

But in 1950, she decided to leave the hospital and go into a private physician office. The demands of nursing kept her from the hospital with a "good taste in her mouth" was the best thing for her. There wasn't any night work at her new job and she wasn't on call, either.

  Going into a private practice showed her a different side of a patient, she said.

   "We work on keeping the patient well instead of getting them well as was done in the hospital."

In 1979, she retired from working full-time but continued until 1985 on a part-time basis.

   Now, she is an active lady in church work and she helps in the Senior Citizens Bees (Busily Enjoying Everyday Seniors).

   She looks back over her 50 years in nursing and is glad she chose it for a profession.

   "I't's an experience no one can ever take away from me," she said.

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Transcribed by: PR Massey

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