You know you're Old School when...

by snoopy29 snoopy29 Member Nurse

Specializes in A and E, Medicine, Surgery.

You are reading page 8 of You know you're Old School when.... If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.



Specializes in A and E, Medicine, Surgery. 137 Posts

Thankyou I am so grateful to every single nurse that has shared their memories, I have enjoyed every moment of my walk down memory lane.

There is so much nursing history in these posts that I intend to print this post out and keep it . Maybe every ten years we should do this because every day things change but it's only when we look back we see just how different things are and the newbies of today will be the old school then!

Once again thankyou for your time and precious memories :)


Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery. Has 34 years experience. 8 Articles; 3,015 Posts

Soap and water enemas,

Pouring water down an NG tube as bowel prep whilst they were sat on a commode

Being on bedpan duty when you were hungover as a student nurse

Making a tray of tea for sister and the consultant for after the ward round was over, and it was in a china tea pot with cups and saucers

Egg white and oxygen for pressure ulcers

Back rounds, where we rubbed the pressure areas to prevent sores

Are Silastic foam bungs around any more, remember packing bum abcess with those and making silly shapes out of what was left in the tub :D

Where I first worked we used to wear cuffs and aprons as well as starched hats



Specializes in Nurse Educator; Family Nursing. 141 Posts

The candling was done for agar plates of vaginal smears to test for gonorrhea. The gonorrhea only grows in an anerobic environment. We placed the agar plates immediately into the gallon pickle jar, the set a lighted candle (like a votive candle) on top, put the lid back on the jar and when the candle burned up all the oxygen, it went out, and you had an anerobic environment for the cultures to grow. This was done multiple time a day until the jar was full or clinic was done. Then the bottle was taken to the lab.



12 Posts

I remember one of our instructors telling us that we should never wear gloves while changing a colostomy bag because it would make the patient feel bad.

Oh my - I had forgotten this but yes we were told to not wear gloves with a colostomy bag changing as it might embarrass the patient.:eek:

I have enjoyed reading these posts and remembering the "old days".



2 Posts

This is absolutely great reading! I am not quite 'old school' but a long way from new grad. I am really enjoying hearing from the 'old school nurses'. My aunt is 91 and is in that category and as she suffers from dementia, she recalls more vividly her nursing school days and ward work as a new grad. I enjoy visiting her and hearing her tales of the way it was. Keep the memories coming and thank you for sharing your stories. I am sending this site to every nurse I know. :tku:



12 Posts

As a new nurse (2 years experience), I'm horrified by the no gloves thing. Did you... did you..... have to give a suppository with no gloves?!? OMG!

We had finger cots for that - just covered the one finger you used to insert the suppository.:eek:



Specializes in Nurse Educator; Family Nursing. 141 Posts

Not receiving your cap until you completed a period of probabion, then there was a capping ceremony.

Insulin therapy in psychiatry (the patient was given insulin then when you began seeing signs of shock, they were given glucose)

Electroshock therapy using brevitol and a rubber mouth block

Setting up recyclable catheter trays, lumbar puncture trays, and other sterile trays to learn what equipment would be available when you learned that procedure

Starting IVs in the antecub space with a 1 1/2 inch 18 gauge needle and restraining the arm on a full arm IV board

Hypodermoclysis for elderly cancer patients who couldn't take in fluids

Milk and molassas enemas for elderly cancer patients (these were given in small amount and retained to provide nutrition)

Sharpening needles for injections then placing them in a covered basin (sorted by size) and sterilizing them when you set up an injection you lifted the needle out of the basin with sterile forceps, then returned the lid

Glass syringes and barrels that had numbers that had to be matched because they came in pairs

Working in central supply

Washing surgical gloves after cases, powdering them to keep them from sticking together and placing them in a glove folder (cloth holder) then sterilizing them for use tomorrow (you also had to make sure you marked the size of the gloves on the tape on the outside of the package).

Washing instruments after surgical cases, matching instruments together by type and resterilizing them.

Not counting p.o. (demerol, MS and codiene tablets) narcotics because they came to the unit in multidose bottles

Crushing a 4 mg MS tablet in a syringe with the barrel (remember they were glass) then drawing up 1 cc sterile NS to inject for pain (using impecable asepsis)

Having special insulin for the Hebrew patients that was not derived from pork pancreas (it was bovine, not porcine)



Specializes in NICU,MB,Lact.Consultant, L/D. Has 31 years experience. 169 Posts

I remember all of those. Old school is also using glass syringes to draw blood ( and then having to clean them), using reusable IV needles in NICU for scalp veins AND....going to work in Nova Scotia and being told to put a BREAD POLTICE on a patient. Now being trained in Tacoma where even in the early 70's we had an IV pump for every IV, I was like WHATTTTT??????????




1 Article; 29 Posts

This is a great thread! Brings back memories....

In our provincial psychiatric hospital, we used cigarettes for rewards in the token economy programs, even on Admitting units. In our canteen we sold papers and tobacco for those patients who could roll their own.

Now, decades later, we are forbidding those same aging patients, mostly suffering from schizophrenia, from smoking in the hospital, even when they are involuntary. We give them nicotine patches and preach quitting smoking when they are discharged. For some of them it's the only pleasure they ever had in life and the health care system contributed to that in a major way.

And when I was a community nurse, I remember patients boiling their needles and glass syringes in a pot on the stove for when I came to give insulin or other injections.

Generally in hospitals in the 60's, it was: The Doctor is God. Give up your seat for them, clean up after them, let them on the elevator first. They had their own section of the cafeteria, and only the OR nurses got to sit with them, as they were considered a cut above the rest of us.

You could look out across the cafeteria and tell from the sea of caps which hospital any nurse had graduated from (we all attended hospital-based schools of nursing).

And we all remember the strict rules of residence life--all of us virginal student nurses had to live there with a vigilant house mother keeping tabs of our every move. No marrying allowed till you graduated!

canoehead, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience. 6,837 Posts

Mercury thermometers that had to stay in for five minutes to get an accurate temp. Putting them in mouths all around the ward, doing P, R, BP on everyone, then taking em all out. Or even worse, forgetting you put one in and coming back 20min later finding the thermometer still intact in mouth.

Psych rotation where we were warned suicidal patients would try to bite the thermometer, and we were to prevent them (how??). One SN yelled so loud when he saw someone bite down the real RNs actually came out from inside the glassed in and locked nurses' station.



147 Posts

Heart attack patients not having them move at all, we turned them, shaved them, and fed them. Absolutely no coffee!!!! for so many days (can't remember how many)


Wishinonastar, BSN

Has 37 years experience. 3 Articles; 1,000 Posts

Those crazy glass suction machines for cholecystectomy post-ops AFTER their long ICU stay. Lumbosacral strain patients that had traction and PT and stayed for days. VIP rooms where the rich would stay for a "rest" or "tests". Steel tubex syringes that were always getting lost. The hopper room with the bedpan washer. Soaking everything in pink disinfectant (can't remember the name) before it went back to sterile processing. A real nurses station instead of everything on computer, stacks of charts and paper orders that had to be carried to the pharmacy. The first computer system in the hospital "order entry" we called it and a lot of people quit over it. Mostly I remember the feeling that patients trusted us. We were angels in white, not an enemy to sue or report.