"The Good Ol' Days!" - page 3

by BostonTerrierLoverRN

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I was blown away to find out student nurses could not be married during school, when one of my instructors went to a Public Charity Hospital based Diploma Nursing Program. I loved hearing about having to sterilize everything,... Read More


  1. 10
    Hmmm, what can one remember?

    A.M. care was just that and the ward/floor was done *before* lunch time.

    Shifts were 7-3, 3-11, and 11-7.

    AM care for bed ridden patients was a bed bath using a basin filled with warmish water, a small bar of Ivory or other soap, cotton wash cloth (like we used at home), and towels. If one was lucky it was a nurse and aides or two aides, usually just the one (aide) and then one had to remember all that training for shifting/positioning a patient who may or may not be able to assist. Oh yea, it's fun trying to wash up an explosive BM whilst patient refuses to "stay put" on his/her side! *LOL*

    Med/Surg I for *all* nursing programs included learning three types of beds. One was tested an these and other nursing arts in the lab as part of final examinations.

    Making an occupied bed by doing all one side at once (with pt positioned on his/her side), pushing the layers underneath pt, reposition pt, then going over to the otherside and taking away the soiled linen and pulling over the fresh.

    Going around after mid-night and removing all water pitchers from NPO patients due for the OR in the AM. Often a sign was placed on the door or near it as well.

    Hospitals had cafeterias with good food and one could actually leave the floor to go down for lunch or dinner breaks.

    Pre-folding cloth diapers when they came from the laundry and placing in linen supply on peds or newborn unit so they would be ready for changes. Learning how to fold same in different ways for boys or girls.

    Foot wear was standard nursing shoes. Clogs weren't permitted and if you fell or slipped on duty whilst wearing the things insurance often wouldn't pay up.

    Glass IV bottles of NS coming up on huge pallets from the pharmacy making a ton of racket as they clanked.

    No Pyxis nor unit dose. Nurses mixed meds prior to dispensation and or creating an IV. Most meds came in large bottles of pills or liquids and one poured out what was required.

    Hot tea with lemon or ginger ale for patients with nausea.

    Rectal tubes for gas.

    Sitting through Med Dosage Calc class learning metric - apothecary conversions and thinking "GPKMN" (God Please Kill Me Now) Grams to mgs, to grains. Grams to drams....
    No caculators allowed, show all work and the ONLY formulas allowed were what one was taught. No matter if you got the correct answer, if the method was wrong you didn't get credit. Oh and there wasn't any of that "dimensional analysis" stuff either. *LOL*

    Nurses couldn't make a diagnosis as that was the doctor's realm. So nurses would have to chart/say things like "appears to" or some such to get around. Nurses couldn't state a pt had died (that was also a medical diagnosis) until a doctor had done so. They could say "it appears the patient is no longer breathing" or in some facilities "patient has expired".

    Infant formula and sterile water came in glass bottles. One simply screwed on a nipple and got on. Cloth diapers (clean of course) were used as bibs and or burp cloths.

    No Chux. Draw sheets were doubled or a rubber mat was placed between the layers.

    When linen was in short supply the top sheet was used as the bottom and only one clean sheet was issued. Blankets were only changed every other day or when they became soiled.

    No implied formality. Patients were addressed as Mr. Mrs. Miss, or by title if they had one (Doctor for instance). Nuring staff was "Miss. Smith", or "Nurse Smith". Doctors were "Doctor Jones"....

    When patients died and they were ready to move the body to the morgue all doors to other patient's rooms were closed so they couldn't see the transfer.
    Dalzac, Old.Timer, GrnTea, and 7 others like this.
  2. 4
    Into the 80s we were still fighting smoking in the lounge, I remember how proud I was that when I brought it up at staff meeting that they finally banned it during report (but only during report).

    I remember the colored pens, and metal bedpans!

    These days, the problem is getting the docs to go to their designated area and computers (which still access everything, unlike the nurses that have had just about everything restricted, including the health care article links that are on the hospital page!). They insist on sitting at the nurse's stations and using ours. No where to sit! I tell my students they don't sit, either in the lounge or the station if there is anyone else around.

    We used betadine and a blow dryer for our decubs in LTC.

    And the hoops we jumped through to get an IVAC sent to the floor!
  3. 6
    Dress codes were much more strict then, even when caps had been mostly gotten shot of many DON's, supervisors and head nurses didn't stand for any nonesene on that front.

    No heavy or obvious make-up. Ditto for perfume.
    No nail polish and or long nails (natural or otherwise).
    No jewellery aside from a watch and perhaps one's wedding band. Some head nurses allowed a newly engaged nurse to wear her ring for a few days or weeks, but after that it had to go as well.

    If the hospital colors were *blue* for instance and you had a red sweater, it had to go. No, it didn't matter if your granny in County Cork knitted for you, wear it on your own time.

    Wearing isolation gowns to either keep warm or hide a badly stained uniform.
  4. 1
    Really good thread. I love to hear stories like these. Thanks for sharing them!
    BostonTerrierLoverRN likes this.
  5. 10
    Ahhh the memories. DoGoodThenGo, how could I have forgotten the glass IV bottles!! Everything came in glass or metal.

    No pulse oximeters, checking the patient's colour rather than their O2 sat. An ABG would have to be done if you needed to know more than that. Mercury thermometers and syphgmos. Making tea and toast at 6am for those on the afternoon theatre list before you took away their water and put up the Nil By Mouth sign. Lots of IM injections.

    Mine was a very old hospital and there was no air conditioning. We had huge ceiling fans down the centre of the ward for the summer and we'd open all the windows when the weather was nice. Those water-filled tube type radiators against the walls for the winter. We'd put blankets over the radiators so we could put a warm blanket on the patients when they returned from theatre - they were always cold.

    No wall oxygen or suction so dragging huge cylinders around everywhere. Portable suction machines set up beside the bed if we thought we'd need it. I thought I was in heaven when I was sent to the sister hospital down the road which was quite new and there was oxygen and suction on the wall behind every bed!

    Bed blocks to raise the foot or head of the bed. It turned out the newer sister hospital had beds that could be raised or lowered - who knew such a thing existed??

    Evening care and back rubs. No slide sheets or lifting machines.

    Makes you wonder how things are going to be in another 25 years.
    Last edit by CompleteUnknown on Apr 7, '12 : Reason: spelling mistakes grrrr
  6. 5
    along with the sharpening needles to get the burrs out for reuse...

    how about boiling a solution, adding the med, drawing it up and running to give it IV before it cooled and precipitated out?
  7. 6
    What a wonderful thread!! My great grandmother was an LPN, and I remember her all white dress, stockings (yup, the kind that attached to garters) her bright white shoes, and her nursing cap. All white and pristine and ironed stuff she needed to put on for work. Now that I am an LPN, I can say with certainty that I would last about 32 seconds without a run in my stocking, a stain of some sort on my white dress, and the ability to keep the cap on straight, and hot flashes from the multiple layers.....
  8. 5
    When I first started they used glass suction machine cannisters with rubber tubing, glass IV bottles, most without a pump. We were using cloth diapers on every baby except those on strict I and O. For those we would weigh each Pamper before we used it and weigh it again when the baby voided The laundry would send up a gigantic stack of unfolded white cloth diapers and every nurse chipped in to get those folded when he or she had a spare minute, which was a precise step by step process.

    We used mercury thermometers. Taking an axillary temp took forever.

    Ventilators were a cross between a refridgerator and R2D2. Every child on a vent had a 1:1 nurse.

    Our isolation section was six rooms in a semi-circle with safety glass windows in the doors and a central nurse's station. Everything we used was cloth. When you're standing under hot lights it is much more comfortable than plastic.

    You want crusty? Our nurse managers ran the show. They could turn a snotty intern into a pile of goo in 15 seconds flat.

    The nurse "house officer" for nights wore all whites and a cape! She scared me! . . .and I worked 3-11. All shifts were 8 hours. After a few years they offered 4 10s, very avant-garde for the time.

    You wore Nursemates shoes. A co-worker got special permission to wear athletic type white shoes, because she had a note from her doctor certifying some type of injury that would warrant such a breach of the dress code.

    There was an NICU nurse with a very small nose ring. It was the scandal of the whole hospital.
    Last edit by nursel56 on Apr 7, '12 : Reason: forgot something
  9. 6
    o my goodness, I have been nursing for 7 years (11 if you count 4 years of training) in Ireland and now Australia.

    We still do primary nursing with no such thing as a CNA as in the state that I work in Victoria we have mandated ratios in public hospitals and we do not use unregistered healthcare workers. we have ratios of 1:4 on general acute wards unless the incharge deems it more acute and requests more staff. we do all personal cares, mix all our antibiotics and infusions bar chemo, iron infusions and TPN, on the weekend we do all non acute PT such as chest physio and mobilisation.

    While we do not have a uniform as such but we have a code of acceptable dress.

    The old half of the building where I trained and worked had no inbuilt O2 and suction. It is over 90 years old. The main block was built in the 80s and has them.

    Every hospital that I have worked at a drug trolley or drug room with dispensary bottles no single dosing.

    I still dump jugs on pts who are for theatre the next morning at midnight.

    The hospital that I worked in in Ireland when a pt died we opened the window to let the spirit of the deceased out. We closed the doors of all the room as the nurses stood in a guard of honour as the body was wheeled out by the porters. we still do this where I work now except the windows don't open (good idea on the 9th floor).

    If there was a shortage of IV pumps they were prioritised for central lines, TPN, heparin, insulin and PPI infusions anything else may have to be run on gravity.
  10. 10
    Wow.......the memories come flooding back.

    My sister graduated nursing school in 1979. It was a diploma/hospital based program the required the chemistry, A&P, pharmacology etc from a college campus (very progressive). She had to live there and was only allowed to come home on weekends. You were allowed to be engaged but not married until your senior year.

    I went to an ASN program which was a diploma program, moved onto he college campus...en masse, instructors and all. We had all the same clinical requirement on "our time", and had school all summer, if you didn't like it leave. We had a "capping ceremony" where after our first semester we got our caps, but no stripes. On the third semester we got one stripe and in our last semester in the summer we got the second and final stripe. This designated to what ever facility we went to what year we were with out confusion.

    Minimal "tasteful" makeup only. White uniform only. If it was pants they had to be of a "set". white nursing shoes (nurse mates were very popular) Perfume NO. Hair "neat and clean....off the collar" nails were to be trimmed and clean. Jewelry. Ring...one no set stones. Necklace...one and it must never dangle, preferably a cross. Shoes clean and white...my manager would make you go and polish/clean your shoes if the were scuffed. Panty lines could NOT show and "proper undergarments" must be warn at all times. White panty hose even under slacks were a must and enforced and it your hose were run.....you had to have a spare. Blue or white sweater only and no lab coats......doctor's wore those.

    I remember MD's making rounds and putting their cigarette out in the patients ash tray. No computers, no monitor analysis systems. We used three colors of ink to chart......Blue/black for days, brown for evenings, and red for nights. We did PM care as a team and were expected to "tidy" the patients room and empty the trash. You changed the draw sheet and offered back rubs. You gave clean wash cloths and towels, brushed teeth and put dentures to bed after hs snack. All water was changed and freshened every shift for the next shift. Pitchers removed for NPOs. Remember theses were metal pitchers as well as bed pans. There was this wash hopper on the wall that after they were "clean" you place them here and they were "sterilized". NOTHING beat the sound of a dropped bedpan or thrown urinal when it hit those hard linoleum or the wall .....man they hurt when they made contact . I remember the nuns making sue we did our jobs. Heck I remember uniform allowences.

    I remember red rubber NGT's that were "sterilized" and reused, 3 glass bottles taped to the floor for chest tube water seal, the glass bottle with suction we called it a Gomco. Rotating tourniquets for pulmonary edema. The visual of a patient blue from the nipple line up when the ventricular aneurysm blew. Anterior wall MI's had V Tach/V fib, Inferior walls had all the heart blocks. The old Bennett MA1 was a monstrosity and the balloon pump was even bigger and used only as a last ditch effort. Mi's had cardiac rehab levels. Cardiac rehab level 1 the patient could read a book with arm support. NO HOT OR COLD liquids. ABSOLUTE bed rest, complete bed baths. I remember multidose narcs and bottles full of meds for us to dispense every med pass. We mixed all of our IV's , potassium, and all

    We balanced and calibrated ALL the equipment with the mercury sphygmomanometer every shift. Cardiac outputs took three people and all calculations were manual we were allowed to CHECK our calculations eventually. I remember playing with mercury on the desk when a thermometer "accidentally broke". I remember the sound of a glass TPN bottle you just spend eons mixing when it accidentally hit the floor. I remember hanging my first bottle of nitro.......Tridil with the special Tridil tubing. I remember being annoyed when all drips needed to be on a pump when a buretrol is just fine for most. NO GOOD ICU was without the role of aluminum foil to protect the Nipride from light....all the way to the site. I remember iridesent blue green urine from too much methylene blue in the tube feeding.....

    This was only the early eighties......and then the rapid change took place.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Apr 7, '12


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