Let's play I Remember When.....

Nurses General Nursing


I think it would be a good idea and fun for any nurse who has been working for, oh let's say 15+ years, to post a message for the younger and/or less experienced nurses, so they can see where us veteran nurses are coming from. What do you think??? I'll start it off with.... I remember when it was so quiet on our full 63 bed med-surg floor on the night shift that I could hardly stay awake!...when there was a unit clerk on the night shift! ...when the patient's bed side tables, overbed table, and shelf in the bathroom had to cleared of all personal care items at all times and had to be in the drawers and be labeled with their names in black marker!...when it was required to wear our little white nurse's hats!...when hair couldn't touch our collars!...when we had to stand when a doctor came into the room!... when there was a shift charge nurse who rounded with the doctor and wrote all his orders down on a notepad and then came back to the station and wrote the orders on the chart, handed them to the unit clerk and then checked them off!(what happened to that person!?)...when a patient was admitted the night before so she could have a douche administered in the AM before her GYN surgery...when we had aides who stocked, cleaned, AND answered lights...when we used up one entire monthly staff meeting and half of the next month's meeting debating how we could get ice water to the patients without A. contaminating the kitchen, B. contaminating the cart used to push the ice bucket around with, C. contaminating the ice scoop, and D.wasting time!...when we put sugar in wounds and taped an oxygen mask over it!...when we could get all our work done, sit around and have a conversation with our co-workers,chart and still get out on time!...Work an entire night shift as the med nurse and give only two PRNs for the whole shift!(63 pts)...When we had time to clean out drawers and wipe the counters down(at least 3 times a week)!... I've been a nurse since 1978, not so long ago,considering I still have about the same amount of time left to go before I retire!!This career is a trip and a half!!!


244 Posts

This is a great idea. However now I have a question. Why the sugar in a wound, what is the rationale for that, and the O2 mask?

Jenny P

1,164 Posts

Specializes in CV-ICU.

I remember when the gift you got for graduating from nursing school was a pair of bandage scissors; the only stethescopes on the floor were with the BP cuff tray; the only reason (besides BPs) a nurse would use a stethescope was to check an apical heart rate before giving either dogoxin or digitoxin; SSKI was the way we treated low K+ levels; we had time to talk to our patients and teach them something about their bodies that did not necessarily pertain to their reason for being in the hospital; we used a red rubber french catheter (autoclavable!) in a clean wax paper cup for each day to suction a patients ET tube; and Paraldahyde! (which I still think would be a good med to give in these days of ETOH withdrawal). Does this show my age or what????? How about hyperdermoclysis, ether, and glass IV bottles?


192 Posts

I remember when I used to smoke cigarettes at the nurses station, WITH the doctors. UGH!

OC_An Khe

1,018 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care,Recovery, ED.

How about resharpening needles. When you started and maintained an IV the NEEDLE stayed in. Or better yet when only MD's started IV's.

If you really want to have fun with this thread see if you can find and quote from Nursing texts from each decade of the last century.

[This message has been edited by ocankhe (edited December 12, 2000).]


338 Posts

What a great post. I'm a new nurse, but let me share my Grandma's (86 yrs young) nursing memories: She remembers "melting" narcotics over a candle and mixing with sterile water to inject (Yikes) resharpening needles, and baths for every patient whether they could do their own or not....


33 Posts

I remember glass urinals, (I have one!!!)glass syringes(have one of those too) stainless steel bedpans that always seemed to be kept in the freezer. When a hot water bottle was a red rubber vessel that was used for everything from warming babies, to comforting gassy bellies. And don't forget when patients stayed for 3-4 days for a T&A!!!

I remember when we had 24 neurosurgical and neurological patients on one hall and 22 ENT on the other side; striker frames, circle beds, halo traction, crutchfield tongs and we had one charge RN for the floor, 1 LPN for meds and treatments, 2 NAs for basic care on each side and everything got done including backrubs, passing evening snacks, cleaning rooms, and evening partials (brushing teeth, washing face/hands and perineal areas). Plus, we had to "open" charts then and make entries every 2 hours on every patient. We had to stand for every MD (I almost got thrown out of school for not standing). We poured our meds and used med cards/trays (if you have ever dropped a full one you know what i mean....) Every surgical patient had enemas til clear the nite before surgery. There weren't any disposable underpads for beds. We used draw sheets with rubber sheets underneath them for incontinence. I could go on and on.......I guess I am older than i realized...thanx for reminding me... :-)

I remember hypodermoclycis as well as proctoclysis (does anyone else remember?) We routinely used sugar, maalox and O2 on wounds so the bacteria would eat the sugar and maalox and not the tissue (at least that was the theory then). Interestingly, I remember wounds healing much better then than now. We also used to have the "bullet" oscilloscopes that were the precursors of cardiac monitors. The scopes were shaped like torpedos and showed you one lead only. Clearly only used for the sickest patients and only the MD could interpret. A nurse could tell, however, when there was a "flatline". I remember turning teams when 2 people would go down the hall and turn, clean, fluff pillows, reposition patients every 2 hours religiously. Sometimes you finished one round only to start another.

[This message has been edited by Charles S. Smith, RN, MS (edited December 12, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by Charles S. Smith, RN, MS (edited December 13, 2000).]


1 Post

I graduated in 1962, went to work at Kaiser Hospital working 6 days on and 2 days off, making $269 per month.We had to give every pt. a complete bed bath, if they were up walking around, we had to have them get back into bed for their bed bath. Drs did cut-downs, where they would cut across the upper arm,then get hold of a vein, stick the i.v. tubing into the vein then sew it into place. They also did "Clysis" to get fluids into a patient. a clysis needle is about 6 inches long, with a big bore about a #8 needle. these went into the thigh, one in each thigh.AAAAAAGGHH !!! We had to give every patient a back rub using first, rubbing alc. to toughen the skin, then body lotion to soften the skin, Go figure. Then we passed refreshments to the patients each one got either apple juice, grape juice, 7-up or milk, they also got either a sandwich, or two slices of buttered toast. so they wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night hungry. and at one time we were giving them a small glass of wine at bedtime (with doctors orders,) When a patient came in the night before surgery, we had to give them an 'Enema's till clear" which meant sometime 5 or 6 enemas in a row.If they had hemmorhoids, then we also had to give them a sitz bath.Before I went into nursing I had my first child in 1948, in those days they kept you in bed for the first 5 days, then when you got up on your feet, you promptly passed out.The mothers were not allowed to unwrap their babies blanket. they would bring in the baby to breast-feed (every mother breast fed ) then as soon as you were through they took the baby back to the nursery. I went home on the 7th day. and my hospital bill was $79. When my 2nd child was born in 1951 I stayed 5 days then my 3rd child in 1956 I stayed 3 days when I had my 4th child I was in the hospital 22 hrs. Wow! that brings back lots of memories. I am now retired and really do miss nursing. Nicki


Barbara Rose

71 Posts

OK, I remember taking care of a patient in an iron lung! It was hectic to say the least since you had to be so fast to get them cleaned up, etc. and back "in" the lung so quickly. They were hugh, took up the whole room, and were noisy. I also remember the little old ladies who came in for the winter; usually came in about december and stayed till at least february. I don't think either will be happening any time soon again.


186 Posts

It is so amazing to read all these posts. You all have really seen some huge changes in nursing. Makes me wonder what things will be like by the time I go to retire (in about 2040!) I have a question- did they do the cutdowns because that was the only way they knew to start an IV back then or what?

I also wanted to thank you all for allowing me to join your trip down memory lane. This nursing student found it very cool. smile.gif




"The highest reward for man's toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it."-Johan Ruskin


1 Article; 5,758 Posts

I saw cutdowns done for one reason, during codes when the person was in vascular collaspe, perhaps other nurses saw them used for non emergencies. Codes by the way where intoduced in the sixties.

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