Dr. Greening had a fascinating career She was born in 1917, in Sydney but her family moved to Glen Innes on the New England tablelands, where she attended school- she comments that in a small country town there were very few opportunities for any female with ability.
She did reasonably well in her leaving certificate, but found that she could only go into either nursing or teaching. There were only 2 scholarships available to country females in teaching, and she therefore went into nursing as a 2nd choice She went to the Coast hospital in Sydney, which had a very good reputation at that time, and tells fascinating stories of the infectious diseases before antibiotics,
-the story of diphtheria which was a scourge, the routines all had to learn to deal with sudden laryngeal obstruction,
-the routines for bums, the routines for shaving heads of all children admitted to deal with lice, the military regimentation of nursing, the obligation to live in etc.
-the effect of the depression, her decision to join up in the services as a nurse as soon as war was declared, and her career in the services, are outlined with great candour and humour
There is a romantic narrative of the way in which she decided to try to get into medicine at an advanced age after the war-quite rare in those days her struggles to get through, the necessity to work part time as a nurse to pay her way, her later decision to go to Crown St hospital, the honour of being kept on as a senior, the experience she received at what was then the premier teaching hospital in this state-her subsequent career in the UK, experience on the flying squad, with massive haemorrhages, difficult forceps deliveries, , etc etc
- the failure to get a specialist degree at that time, her time in Taree as a GP, the almost freakish chance which led her to go back to the UK to get her specialist degree, the subsequent fight to be allowed to practice in Taree as a specialist, and her subsequent career are an eye opener to those who do not know that era.
Her quietly feminist attitude to protect her patients, and enormous empathy with them, were her trade marks. We should remember that female Gynaecologists were even uncommon in the cities then and having one in Taree was probably unique in Australia.
This is a courageous story of a dedicated, humble woman who just refused to give up and who finally overcame the prejudices of the time to make an enormous contribution to women's health. Bunny [as she was always known to her friends] was a wonderful role model for the women specialists who came after her.