Oral Histories

Interview of Bertha B. Unger

Director of nursing at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.
Subtitle:
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital: Bertha B. Unger
Series:
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital
Topic:
Science, Medicine, and Technology
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Research Centers and Programs
Interviewer:
Balter, Michael S.
Interviewee:
Unger, Bertha B.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Length:
2.9 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series was made possible by support from the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital and documents the history of that institution.
Abstract:
Childhood and family background; religious discipline; education; community life in rural New York; decision to enter nursing; training at Middletown State Hospital; mother's death; life in New York City in the 1930s; working in an epileptic ward; meeting and dating Max Unger; position on the children's unit at the New York State Psychiatric Institute; psychiatric care in the 1930s; patients; marriage to Unger; World War II; moving to New Orleans; life in the South; leaving nursing after marriage; return to nursing in 1953; the neurology service at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center; completing education at Teachers College, Columbia University; teaching neurological nursing at Columbia; move to Los Angeles in 1961; offered position as supervisor of the children's service at the Neuro-psychiatric Institute (NPI); Ruth White; faculty in the children's service; the nursing staff at NPI; Unger's philosophy of supervising; debates over dress policies for NPI nurses; the argument over psychiatric nurses wearing street clothes; training nurses to care for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities; behavior modification techniques for autistic patients; levels of staffing and equipment; career development policies; reorganizing the nursing staff into clinical specialists; mass resignation of NPI nursing staff in April 1967 to protest reductions in the California Department of Mental Hygiene's budget; the California Nurses Association; strategies for coping with understaffing; the clinical ladder concept; Unger promoted to director of nursing in 1968; Philip R. A. May; Norman Q. Brill's resignation as director of NPI; Henry H. Work and George Tarjan; Louis Jolyon West; retirement in 1987.