Quote from colrainrn
I would love to hear how a nurses day went in the 1940s,50s, early 60s. Any major differences between now and then...any good stories to share?
I don't recall how he represented nurses, but a wonderful author, Frank G. Slaughter, MD, wrote novels over many decades and his novels would always describe the "cutting edge" in medicine.
Having grown up in the 50s and 60s, I can tell you that
* temperatures were taken with mercury thermometers which were kept in cups of isopropyl alcohol. This was one of the the things which gave a characteristic smell to physicians' offices. (Rectal and oral thermometers were kept separate; the rectal thermometers having, I believe, a blue top and the oral ones a red top.
* I remember getting a shot from a re-usable glass syringe, the needle sterilized between uses via flame.
* ICUs and public CPR did not come into existance until the 1960s.
* Personal Protective Equipment really didn't come into its own until the 1980s, after the AIDs epidemic. There were NOT glove boxes in every room.
* IVs came in glass bottles.
If you have seen "The Graduate", you will remember that Dustin Hoffman was given one word of advice, "plastics". That was in the early 1960s; much of the use of plastics and disposable medical equipment did not exist. I remember as a paramedic in 1977-1978, most hospitals had IV solutions in bottles; plastic IV bags were just starting to come in.
* NSAIDs did not exist
* Antibiotics primarily consisted of penicillin.
* Polio vaccine did not come in until the 1950s.
* Nurses generally wore white dress uniforms with their white nursing caps.
* I'm not sure when nurses started regularly using stethoscopes, but it must have been during this time.
* if you can find any of the old Dr. Kildare or Ben Casey series, that would give you some idea of the hospitals of the early '60s.
* triage nurses did not exist in ERs.
* personal computers, and therefore desktop computers, did not come into existance until the late 1970s (at the earliest; IBM first's entry was in 1981--which was the microcomputer businesses finally were willing to take a chance on--evolving into "wintel" machines. However, the graphical user interface did not appear on microcomputers until 1984, with the advent of the Macintosh, introduced with a very famous Super Bowl commercial, where "1984 will not be like 1984"--or something to that effect. It was not only a sentinel commercial for microcomputers, but also for superbowl commercials.
* color tvs did not come into existance until the 1960s.
* miniaturization and computers, velcro, etc., were all benefits of the space race and John F. Kennedy's decision to go to the moon; many of these things made the modern critical care units possible.
* zip codes and area codes did not exist. I know in the 1950s you had to contact a long distance operator to make a long distance call. Since cell phones did not exist, and no monitoring equipment, people didn't worry about cell phone usage in critical care units
* Fathers did not go into labor and delivery with their wives.
* People would get admitted to the hospital to run tests, because insurance would cover hospitalization; otherwise the tests were not covered.
* X-rays and stethoscopes were the typical "diagnostic" equipment. There wa a lot more "hands on" doctoring, and emphasis on diagnosing based upon what the physician saw, heard, felt, smelled...and I'm not sure when physicians stopped tasting urine (don't know if it was before or after the 1940s) for diabetes.
* specialization had not really hit medicine; most docs were "gp"s -- general practitioners; there also, of course, was no such thing as advanced practice nurses.
That's all I can think of/have time for at the moment...
Hope that helps...