Growing up in a small town in New Brunswick in a dysfunctional family, Francene Cosman was determined to be strong and further her education. In 1962, she graduated from the Saint John General Hospital nursing program. During a six-month post grad in Jersey City, New Jersey her social conscience was awakened, and she participated in the black civil rights movement, joining in marches to support the cause of freedom and equality. At the age of twenty-two, she returned to New Brunswick and worked in obstetrics at the Saint John General Hospital, then moved to Fredericton where she worked at the Victoria Public Hospital. A move to Nova Scotia, brought her to the former Grace Maternity Hospital. After the birth of her second daughter, she retired. After raising her children, a long political career ensued, first as a county councillor, then the first mayor of Bedford; then president of the provincial Status of Women; executive director of the Liberal Party; deputy speaker of the NS legislature; Minister for the Civil Service; and Minister of the Status of Women. She retired from politics but still speaks out on community issues. She is currently the curator of the Scott Manor House in Bedford.
Francene's book, Nurse! launched on September 23, 2022
The summer of 1959 promises to stretch slowly forward, with one exception. The looming deadline, of entering the Saint John General Hospital school of nursing as a probationer student, interrupts the worry-free days with a nagging doubt. Is nursing the right choice? Self doubt is mingled with preparation in advance of the date of entry while Francene gets more jittery as the day approaches. She was born to nurse but did not know it yet.
This is a coming-of-age story as a young woman prepares to take on the challenges of a very disciplined profession. Written with humour and compassion, the memoir explores what it takes to learn the art and science of nursing. The demands of work, private life, and study are all described as you follow along in her footsteps.
Nursing prepared Francene for multiple career paths in the decades that followed her graduation. The author believes that every task she set her mind to in her life was enabled by the foundational skills of her profession.
Nurse! is available at Dartmouth Book Exchange, Carrefour Atlantic, Vickery House Books, Shore Thing, and on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, Waterstones, and many other online retailers, and can be ordered in to your local bookstore.
ISBN: 978-1-989833-30-8- paperback
ISBN: 978-1-989833-31-5 - eBook
"A compelling read for anyone who would love to take a nostalgic journey into the life and training of a nurse. Francene’s passion for her profession shines through this vivid nursing memoir."
– Margie Whitehouse, RN (retired) Hematology, bone marrow transplant nurse
"Nurse! by Francene Cosman is a detail-laden memoir of the St. John General Hospital School of Nursing in St. John, NB, in the last 1950’s/60’s. The life of a student nurse, in this case the risk-taking Francene, is well-laid out and brought back memories of my own nursing education. I so enjoyed the stories of linseed poultices, diabetes testing, and managing patients of all sorts. So much fun to relive those times!"
– Dorthyanne Brown, retired nurse and author