Renee Garnes Spence, RN

Clinical Specialist
Graduated from School of Nursing in 1967


MedStar Washington Hospital Center was a wonderful place to work as a student nurse during the mid-1960s. I formed lifelong friendships, and I still work today with several nurses I graduated with in 1967. In fact, ours was the largest class of student nurses trained at the Hospital Center's nursing school. A new classroom had to be built just to accommodate the group!

In training, we received many hours of clinical experience not only at the Hospital Center but also at Walter Reed, the old Children's Hospital and St. Elizabeth's Hospital. We had to room at St. Elizabeth's during our three months of psychiatric rounds. It was an enriching experience, because I met nursing students from across the country who also stayed and trained at St. Elizabeth's.

In the 1970s, the opening of the ICU tower was like a whole new world for us. At the time, I was working in the old combined medical/coronary ICU and there was just one open ward with five patient beds and some curtains. The new medical and coronary units were split into two separate, spacious state-of-the-art units. Patients in the ICU had private rooms, yet you could see into the rooms through new glass doors. It was a real advantage to be able to see your patients as you were working around the unit.