Interview, February 10, 2006

Duke University. Medical Center. Archives.
Scope and content:

Dr. Wicker speaks about her doctorate of adult education; thinking about Duke since leaving due to a restructuring layoff in 2000; her family background; her interest in becoming a nurse; attending Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing; diploma programs as prevalent at the time she received her education; the Lincoln program being available to African-Americans; the creativity within the Lincoln program since it was underfunded; the camaraderie in the program; Duke's involvement in the Lincoln program; working at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina; working towards her master's degree at North Carolina Memorial Hospital; being a black registered nurse [RN] when most other black nurses were licensed practical nurses [LPNs] and most other RNs were white women; physicians noticing her after the white LPNs because she was black; this being the impetus for her to attain her bachelor's degree in nursing; attaining a master's in nursing supervision; approaching Wilma Minnear [director of nursing services at Duke Hospital] in 1973 for a position; teaching at North Carolina Central University for a year; working at Duke as supervisor of the Outpatient Department; being the first African-American nursing supervisor at the hospital; her deep interest in staff development; supervising nurse managers; expectation that the nurse was the handmaiden to the physician; Dr. Wicker as trying to counter that expectation in those whom she supervised; programs she initiated as supervisor of the Outpatient Department; discovering that she had hired two union plants; supervising in the emergency room; a challenging person she supervised in the emergency room; the emergency room as not her area of expertise; Wilma Minnear asking her to be the supervisor of nursing services for Duke Hospital South; her original hesitation at the offer because of her small children at home; the internship program where interns could work with nurses; overlap at times between nursing services and Duke School of Nursing; the restructuring of hospital administration after Wilma Minnear left; Duke Hospital South as having more black nursing administrators and supervisors than Duke Hospital North; rumors of discontent about nurses at Duke Hospital South, and that discontent being trivial; the retreat about the reorganization of Duke Hospital North and South nursing leadership in Williamsburg, Virginia.; being more dictated to than asked for her opinion at the retreat; being asked to choose an assistant, but being told that her decision was not correct; writing a letter after being told that she could not make this decision; black nurses as not being able to obtain positions; a blue ribbon committee looking into this problem; her letter to the blue ribbon committee; her interactions with the blue ribbon committee; her work in creating the Hospital Career Development program; transitioning into a career development role; her excitement in that program; new administration not valuing the program; her being given a pink slip; her processing being given a pink slip after all her years of contribution to Duke; other contributions she had made to Duke; having no contact with Duke until the invitation to participate in the oral history interview; things she has done since leaving Duke; working on the history of Lincoln Hospital project; that project not being completed; changes in nursing; Brenda Nevidjon; wanting to have a conversation with Dr. Ralph Snyderman before leaving but being denied that opportunity; positives and negatives of Duke culture.

The transcription of this interview was made possible by a grant from the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation.


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