"The Good Ol' Days!"

One of my favorite things about allnurses is reading the posted "Stories" of how things used to be. I am amazed to learn about nursing in the past, and how things are different now. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

"The Good Ol' Days!"

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, and how the student nurses practically ran the hospital. ("A Physician would find a Nurse, begin a Hospital, . . .and start a Nursing School." -Straight out of one of my old Nursing School Text books."

How mental institutions have changed soooooooo dramatically just over the last 50 years!

How cancer was once an instant death sentence.

That Physicians sometimes slept at the bedside of a really sick patient, . . .And made housecalls!!!!

How hospitals were once basically an inpatient hospice before the advent of medicinal treatments such as antibiotics/antivirals.

That one of my instructors from the ADN program worked 7 days a week for $1 per shift her whole first year! (was pinned in 1957).

How one of my professors broke down in tears when a patient with a radio told her that JFK had been shot in Dallas, TX.

How one nurse had every child she had drafted in WWII, so she went as a "Civilian" Nurse to the Corps, and worked at Westpoint post-wartime.

Please add what you know about Nursing in the Past, you don't have to be from a previous era to join in, I'm not, but I promise to cherish each piece of information.

Any books or movies you could recommend a plus too! (History Buff!)

And, if you are from an era before the present, please share some stories about the Nursing Profession, and other memorable events from thah era!!! I can't wait to read them!!! If these stories aren't passed on, it makes me shiver to think we could loose just one!!

What Could You Share about the "Way Things Were Back Then?"

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I am not sure which year my Grandmother was pinned, but it was likely in the early 1930's. She went to school in Brooklyn NY, and she met my Grandfather while still in nursing school and they had to wait to get married till she graduated. She graduated in December and they were married pretty much within a week. She told me stories about how the "younger" students had to show respect for the "older students" etc. As far as I know she lived at the school. I know she was a school nurse for a number of years. My Grandmother and her legacy is one of the reasons I am inspired to become a nurse. She is 94 years old now, and still lives in the same house she grew up in. Grandpa died about 15 years ago, but we are blessed to still have Grandma.

Specializes in OB (with a history of cardiac).

When I was an LPN I worked with another LPN who recalled a time when the nurses had to stand when a doctor walked into the room, or came to the charge desk. This would have been in the 1960's-late.

Hmmm... where to start.

No IV pumps, counting drip rates on all the IVs - we learned to guess pretty well after a while - I would set the roller clamp to where the drips 'looked right' for the particular fluid rate and then do a quick drop count to check. We took great pride in being able to keep all our IVs running on time.

Looking after a ward of 20 post-ops at night with maybe another student nurse to help. The RN was probably covering a couple of wards and sometimes we hardly saw her.

Nightingale wards - not much privacy for the patients but we could see them all and race over (errr.... I mean walk briskly) to the one who was turning purple or about to pull their IV out. The patients could also see where WE were and didn't think we sat around all day doing nothing. They also developed a sort of camaraderie and watched out for each other.

One page nursing admission form!

One page nursing care plan that had all the info and took only a few minutes to update each day.

Terrifying charge nurses who would arrive on the ward, pounce on you and ask the diagnosis and condition of each patient (yes, all 20 of them). An interesting variation on this was when the charge nurse would stop you at an unusual diagnosis and ask all about the cause, presentation, likely outcome and treatment to date. 'And what IV fluids are running? What is his urine output? What was his last BP reading? What drugs have been prescribed? What are the side effects? What happens during that surgery?' Woe betide you if you didn't know.

"Specialling" extremely sick patients - a student nurse would be plucked from somewhere and would look after one very ill patient only. This usually happened when the patient should have been in ICU but there were no beds. I loved specialling - very busy, terrifying at times but very satisfying if you and the patient both made it through the shift or until an ICU bed was found.

Testing urine for glucose by dropping a Clinitest tablet in a test tube of urine, holding while it fizzed and get hot then comparing the colour to the chart on the wall. A few years later it was checking blood sugars by putting a drop of blood on a strip, waiting for 60 seconds exactly, rinsing the blood off under the tap, blotting the strip dry then comparing the colour with the little boxes on the test strip bottle.

Being terrified when something out of the ordinary went wrong with a patient at night because you were the only one there and knowing if you didn't manage it properly the patient would die and finding the strength and knowledge from somewhere to act on the problem and start the appropriate interventions and continue them until help arrived. This was treated as only what you should have done and if somebody said 'well done' you walked on air for a while.

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

me: giving the day's insulin based on the glucose reading of the first morning urine

my aunt practiced nursing for over 50 years, starting in the 1920s, before retiring, and then only because the doctor she worked for died. She had 8 hour shifts at hospital every day, in addition to classroom work as a student.

Downton Abbey gives a small glimpse into how nurses were trained in the old days in England. I am not a big fan of the show, but I've watched some episodes, and the part where Sybil sets off to become a nurse caught my eye.

My great grandma was a nurse way back when, I think she was born in the 1890s. Anyway, she was the head nurse at a local hospital, and she took home six babies without adoption papers or anything like that. My papas birth mom was a teenage mother and asked her if she would take the baby and she did.

Specializes in Emergency; med-surg; mat-child.

My grandmother had her own syringe kit and was responsible for cleaning and sharpening the needle. Glass syringe, steel needle.

She had a cape as part of her uniform! Red and black wool. In her day, pneumonia was a dx the nurses could make just based on how a pt sounded. When she was elderly and broke her hip, she insisted to her nurses that her roommate had pneumonia and they just brushed her off. Then the roommate's sats tanked and they sent her for cxr. Sure enough. She was working when penicillin first came into use. She was OBSESSED with inspecting our BMs. If you flushed before she got a look, holy man, watch out.

I also have my grandfather's sphygmomanometer; it's a box about 2 feet long that opens up to a 90-degree angle, and is full of mercury. I also have his scope, which had an honest-to-god bell on it, no diaphragm. I love old medical equipment. Can you imagine doing what we do without plastic, for instance??

Specializes in Emergency; med-surg; mat-child.

It is AMAZING to me how casual adoption used to be.

Specializes in Acute Care, CM, School Nursing.
My great grandma was a nurse way back when, I think she was born in the 1890s. Anyway, she was the head nurse at a local hospital, and she took home six babies without adoption papers or anything like that. My papas birth mom was a teenage mother and asked her if she would take the baby and she did.

Wow! That is amazing. I'd probably be the exact same way, taking home every unwanted baby until I was living like the old woman in the shoe... LOL

Specializes in none.

My first job I made $75 a week and lived at the hospital.

I remember the Cuban missile crises, how JFK almost go us into a shooting war with the Russians.

He was the first President to have a Comedy Album made about him "The First Family"

Bach to Nursing, I remember having to sharping needles and put them in the old autoclave.

Have to make your own NSS. By adding salt to water.

I remember the old state mental hospital. Assisting the doctor in shock treatment. They would line the beds up in rows. The doctor would have this wooden box on a table. the electrodes would be attached to the box. With IV meds they would heavily sedate the patient. Then attach the electrodes to his head and then shock him. The patient's body would convulse and then relax. The Doc would move down the line to the next patient. There was no screen. The patient in the second bed would see the patient in the first be go through shock treatment knowing he would be next.

Yup, They were the go old days.

It is AMAZING to me how casual adoption used to be.

Desperate times called for desperate measures.

Unwed mothers had few choices back then, and not every place had decent "social services".

Usually what a desperate teen or other unwed mother wanted was to get shot of the infant (hopefully to a good home) before her reputation (or what was left of it) was ruined.

Of course one also didn't require tons of "ID" papers like today in order to get on in life; thus one's true BC (listing parents) may have rarely been called for. Indeed up until recently and still for all one knows it is/was possible to obtain a passport or other government ID with a litany of "other" paperwork and or simply two or more persons swearing an oath to who you were.