Nursing then and now

  1. I left nursing 6 months ago and suddenly feel the need to discuss some of the changes I have witnessed. I got my LPN in 1967, got my RN in 1983 and boy how the world has changed. The biggest difference, of course, is the work load, most of the patients that I cared for at the end of the 20th century would not have been alive in the middle of 20th century. Hospitals have become giant life supposrt systems for the very, very sick. At the end of my career I worked on a telemetry unit, my average assignment was 8 patients, most of whom were ill enough to require one on one care. We also had big patient assignments back in the late 1960s, 40 bed wards with only 4 or 5 staff members to care for the patients in them, but the patients were for the most part ambulatory and lucid. The second area of change is in the area of respect. When I was young I remember feeling very good about being a nurse. I felt like the patients and their families thought there was something special about the nursing profession. I remember having to wear a cap, a uniform dress with white stockings and having to stand up when the MD came into the office. Even so, patients, families and physicians seemed more courteous and respectful back then. The last couple of years those same groups of people were treating me like I was the lowest cur on earth. Anyway, that is how I remember things, but perhaps I am just remembering things that way because everyone likes to think of their youth as being some sort of golden age. Is there anyone out there who has any other thoughts on the matter?
    •  
  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   pandora
    Do you think the lack of respect today has anything to do with the litigation 'culture' that has developed? Maybe people are looking for someone to blame if anything goes wrong instead of appreciating the skills nurses and doctors have.

    As far as your comments about uniforms go, I have heard similar from English nurses here who qualified pre-1980s. There seems to be a romantic attachment to the white cap and starched aprons they wore then; almost as if it were a symbol of long lost pride. In case you're wondering, I graduated in 1995 as a 'mature' student, so I don't think that everything past is ridiculous. However, I take pride in the fact that I am a professional nurse with a degree and I don't feel that I should have to wear a cap to gain respect. Thank God the days are gone when nurses had to stand when senior nurses or doctors entered a room. I would be happy to do that if they would do the same for me. But that's not necessary of course, because we are all professionals working in a team trying to do a good job for the patients.
    I agree that a little more respect would be appreciated, but alas, times have changed and I think you will find that manners and standards of behaviour have undergone a radical change in society in all walks of life.
    I think you should continue to remember your youth as a 'golden' time. It was. It's just different now.
  4. by   oramar
    Originally posted by pandora:
    Do you think the lack of respect today has anything to do with the litigation 'culture' that has developed? Maybe people are looking for someone to blame if anything goes wrong instead of appreciating the skills nurses and doctors have.

    As far as your comments about uniforms go, I have heard similar from English nurses here who qualified pre-1980s. There seems to be a romantic attachment to the white cap and starched aprons they wore then; almost as if it were a symbol of long lost pride. In case you're wondering, I graduated in 1995 as a 'mature' student, so I don't think that everything past is ridiculous. However, I take pride in the fact that I am a professional nurse with a degree and I don't feel that I should have to wear a cap to gain respect. Thank God the days are gone when nurses had to stand when senior nurses or doctors entered a room. I would be happy to do that if they would do the same for me. But that's not necessary of course, because we are all professionals working in a team trying to do a good job for the patients.
    I agree that a little more respect would be appreciated, but alas, times have changed and I think you will find that manners and standards of behaviour have undergone a radical change in society in all walks of life.
    I think you should continue to remember your youth as a 'golden' time. It was. It's just different now.
    I do not know if the litigation culture has anything to do with the changes I am seeing, however I have asked myself that same question. What are nurse in England wearing on duty these days? I have seen BBC produtions that portray contemporary nurses wearing uniforms that appear quite old fashioned. There are very few US programs that accurately portray nurses and I would not be surprised if stereotypes showed up in programs from other countries as well. The most common sterotype in the US is that buxom blond woman with large breast and very tight uniform that ends six inches above her knee, she also wears spike heels. I have never run into this person in all my years as nurse but I see her on TV and at the movies all the time. At least BBC nurse always seem a little over dressed with black stocking, comfortable shoes, a grey or blue uniform with a very white apron over the uniform. The uniform actually confers a air of respectabilty on the wearer but I doubt if anyone dresses that way now days.

    ------------------
  5. by   pandora
    The stereotype of the British nurse seems to be, as you have correctly guessed, either blonde and buxom with ill-fitting uniforms, or 'well starched' white cap 'types' with sensible shoes.

    The first type is the most insulting I think as it portrays nurses as airheads that are the object of fantasy for male patients with nothing better to do. This type is one we are trying to live down without much success because the trashier newspapers in this country like to resurrect this image to delight and titillate some male readers who have nothing better to do.

    'Well-starched' sensible nurse is OK, but a far cry from the British nurses of 21st century. Uniform regulations are much more relaxed now and the emphasis is on the skills and capabilities of the nurse, rather than the way he/she looks. Having said that, I do not deny that self-presentation and professional appearance is important. Well-starched nurse may not have seemed very approachable to patients at times I think. Maybe you don't agree.

    I just think that we are constantly trying to develop our own image, culture and knowledge base, which takes a long time to evolve. But, we're getting there!
  6. by   oramar
    Originally posted by pandora:
    The stereotype of the British nurse seems to be, as you have correctly guessed, either blonde and buxom with ill-fitting uniforms, or 'well starched' white cap 'types' with sensible shoes.

    The first type is the most insulting I think as it portrays nurses as airheads that are the object of fantasy for male patients with nothing better to do. This type is one we are trying to live down without much success because the trashier newspapers in this country like to resurrect this image to delight and titillate some male readers who have nothing better to do.

    'Well-starched' sensible nurse is OK, but a far cry from the British nurses of 21st century. Uniform regulations are much more relaxed now and the emphasis is on the skills and capabilities of the nurse, rather than the way he/she looks. Having said that, I do not deny that self-presentation and professional appearance is important. Well-starched nurse may not have seemed very approachable to patients at times I think. Maybe you don't agree.

    I just think that we are constantly trying to develop our own image, culture and knowledge base, which takes a long time to evolve. But, we're getting there!
    So that blond nurse with the tight uniform works in the UK also, she gets around does she not. As for evolution of the nursing profession, it occurs more rapidly during shortages so we should see some big changes in the next 5 years. You should consider filling out the survey an SN has posted on these boards. It does not take long.


    ------------------

close