History of the Jessie Young Bursary

Jessie Young graduated from the Toronto General Hospital’s School of Nursing in 1937 and obtained a diploma in Hospital Administration and Teaching from the University of Toronto in 1940. Although she spent most of her career at the Toronto General, she also worked in England as an R.C.A.F. matron for 2 years, taught a nursing assistant course for several years and spent 5 years in San Francisco. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the San Francisco State College in 1954 before returning to the Toronto General where she stayed for the rest of her career, working as supervisor of the neurosurgery unit and in staff development.

Jessie’s interest in Neuro-nursing began in 1956 when the Toronto General opened a Neurosurgical Unit and she was asked to supervise it. Her research for setting up this unit involved visits to London and Manchester in England, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, New York and Boston, and finally, Montreal. Amongst her accomplishments have been presentations at various nursing meetings in Canada and the United States. She published in the American Journal of Neurosurgical Nursing, the Nursing Clinics of North America, and in Medical-Surgical Nursing textbooks. As well, she was involved in designing neurological assessment sheets and linen for Stryker frames.

Of immediate interest to CANN members was her commitment to neuro-nursing. Following her attendance at the organizational meeting of the American Association of Neurosurgical Nurses in Chicago in 1968, she decided to found an association for Canadian nurses with a common interest in the specialty—a history-making event in Canadian Nursing at the time. She was supported in this by a close associate, Dr. Morley, from the Toronto General Hospital’s Neurosurgical department and Dr. Feindel, a neurosurgeon at the Montreal Neurological Hospital and president of the Canadian Neurological Society. More than 40 nurses from across Canada attended the initial meeting in Montreal in June 1969 which was held in conjunction with the Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences. Jessie was nominated as the first President of our association and served In both official and unofficial capacities for many years. She supported, advised and evaluated the developing work of the association, often effectively using her sense of humour and always her caring attitude.

Jessie Young retired from active nursing in 1975 but continued to attend most of our annual meetings. She was awarded an Honorary Membership in CANN in 1977, the first person to receive this honour. To further acknowledge her great contribution to our association, the Jessie Young Bursary was established in 1983 to encourage the continuing education of neuroscience nurses. She continued her active work with CANN as the Archivist until 1987. Jessie Young died in 2004 at the age of 93.