The Nursing School at the Transfiguration Hospital in Warsaw

The School begun with nursing courses for the nuns run in the years 1920-1926 at the Transfiguration Hospital in Warsaw, Praga district. The courses were one or one and a half year long, finished with a certified right for professional nursing practice. They also enabled a student to pass an exam before special commission, and receive a so-called state diploma.

This structure had been functioning until 1938. The School’s director from the beginning was sister Wanda Żurawska, the nun from the Daughters of Charity, the graduate of the Warsaw Nursing School, and the Rockefeller Foundation grant holder. Education time was extended to two years since 1939. The candidates must have been at least 18 years old, with junior high school diploma. A course was divided into theoretical and practical modules, according to American models. There were no holidays, and only a month of vacations.

The School’s director was entitled to lengthen a course depending on hospital needs and obligatory practical trainings. A course could have been almost 3 years long actually.

Lecture halls were located in left wing of the hospital, and a dormitory – in the right wing, 5th floor. The School was financed by the Daughters of Charity. According to sister Żurawska, since 1941 the School accepted also laywomen among the students. Living in dormitory, and a student’s ID protected against round-ups and transport to Germany. Hundreds of girls were rescued against such a transport, including the Jews. The School worked during the whole occupation period, active also in resistance.

The teachers, students, and nurses saved life of numerous soldiers of the September campaign, they care for the injured participants of revenge actions, like an attempt at Kutschera’s life. The arrested and guarded by Gestapo and police, were set free thanks to false medical documentation or replaced corpse at operating theatre.

The School survived the whole occupation. The staff and the students were interrogated many times by Gestapo. After the war the School was taken by municipality, and nationalized as the State Nursing School No 1 in December 1949.

Sister Wanda Żurawska, a person of extraordinary nursing and paedagogical talents, were removed from her post. Not until the years 1957-1963 she could organize a nursing school for nuns on Grochowska street in Warsaw. At the beginning of the 50ies the nuns were being dismissed from hospitals. Only a few of them remained, only in three Warsaw settings: the Hospital for Infectious Diseases, the Płocka Hospital, and the Transfiguration Hospital.

Elaborated by Hanna Kamińska