Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How has nursing changed since 1887?

Nurse Talk recently put up a link to an article in Scrubs magazine called, A list of rules from 1887, in which the nurse administration is offering up rules and advice for the nursing staff.  I couldn’t help but chuckle as times have definitely changed!  I would like to offer that I would most likely not be in good standing in that work facility as I frequent the beauty salon on a regular basis and consume wine!  (Such a hussy J)
On a more serious note I was intrigued by the other rules on the list. After a good laugh I really looked at the list. The rules were practical and straight forward.  Clean your patient’s room…washing the floors and dust.  While I’m glad that I do not have to do that myself I am very happy that housekeeping is around to clean my patient’s floors and dust their room to keep germs at bay and provide the feeling of calm.  The nurse was also responsible for the lighting in the patient’s room so she had to tend to the candle wicks, (how awful to practice with no electricity!!)
Getting to work on time is an important rule wouldn’t you say…as is keeping good notes on your patient’s condition, “for the doctor.” 
I thought it was rather interesting that the administration told the nurses to “put aside a good portion of their pay each week as to not become a burden in their older age.” I suppose they thought that as a nurse you had a duty to take care of yourself financially… I suppose they felt it irrelevant to tell the nurses to eat properly and get exercise and eat well, that was probably just a given back then whereas today …not so much!
Finally, if the nurse served her patients, the docs and the facility well for 5 years she may get a raise…Let’s hope that rule doesn’t come back!! 
I decided to think back on the list of rules I was taught 21 years ago…in 1991…  Present yourself to work on time and leave on time as to not cause the hospital financial grief.  Present yourself in a professional manner, clean white, pressed uniform and clean white shoes. (if not you would be sent home to change.)  No bear legs, wear white hose.  Name badge is to be clean and have all your pins of accomplishment on it to provide the patient with a sense of calm.  No swearing.  Clean fingernails and minimal makeup.  Hair was to be kept in a style that would not intrude on your work or fall into the patient’s field of care. Stay current on nursing research and standards.  Be respectful to the doctor at all times, get up and give him your chair, offer to be of assistance and be sure to surrender the chart to him even if your charting was not finished.  You all get the idea…
What is nursing like today?  There are many improvements in terms of nursing rules, our responsibilities have exploded and allowed us to be responsible for every aspect of our patient’s care…but I am not sure that the nurse has improved…now don’t start yelling and swearing here.  I, like all of you, am happy that the word nurse does not mean maid, doctor’s whipping post, slave or housekeeper …but what does the word nurse mean, how are we expected to act now.  It seems to me that we nurses have become an entitled, grumpy, challenging group of people.  We do not like rules imposed upon us and we sure as hell want a raise every year despite our standing.  I am not trying to be a negative nelly here but let us not forget that we became a nurse to “take care of patient’s” 
This has been a very good reminder to me as I hope it has to you.  A nurse is someone who takes care of patients, their every need… (You know what I mean).  Let us do this in a professional manner, with a smile and a caring heart.  I am not saying for us to move back into the dark ages and let people harm us, swear at us or degrade us…but if we want our profession to continue to be the most trusted and highly respected, WE must also respect it and what it stands for.  Let us take pride in our title…NURSE.

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