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Memoirs from a Nursing Career

Updated on August 18, 2010

Graduation Pics

Proud to be wearing white.
Proud to be wearing white.
Graduation day.
Graduation day.
Family photo
Family photo

Those Were The Days

When I graduated from nursing school, I considered myself through with school. I had a guaranteed job at the local hospital, no specialty needed. A nurse was a nurse, either a R.N. or an L.P.N. We had not heard of nurse practitioners.... Just as-- A cook was a cook, not a chef.... A telephone was in the house only, and "Little House on the Prairie" was on our small box television.   Jimmy Carter was president of the U.S.A.

My first nursing position was working at night on a generalized Medical-Surgical floor. I took care of all types of patients on that floor. Psychiatric patients, heart patients, cancer patients, urology patients - they could all end up in my charge. If a nurse called in sick from the Emergency room, Pediatrics, or any other place, one of us would simply be "pulled" to the other area.

And yes, I wore a white hat.

A Bit of Nursing History

Nurses have been part of society for centuries. Similar to mothers, nurses were known to "nourish" orphans and the sick.  They carried basins of water and bedpans.  It was a job for the poor, and not something that an educated woman (or man) would do.

Most of you have probably heard of "Florence Nightingale". Ms. Nightingale was considered the "first modern nurse." She was the one who took what had been considered a lowly job, and worked to improve job conditions and respect for nurses. In 1860 she founded a school for nurses in England.

According to Wikipedia, Linda Richards was the first trained American nurse. She graduated from the New England Hospital for Women and Children in 1873.

Religious organizations and the Military also brought increased respect for nursing around the world in the late 19th, and early 20th century.1

Nursing Is Changing

Over the years nurses, hospitals, and the nursing profession have changed. Some changes are for the better, but I am not sure if all the changes are.

Charting used to consist of a few lines, and some checks, per shift on a paper chart. Each shift at my hospital used a different color pen. There were no detailed assessments. Now all charting is on computer with nursing assessments worthy of MD status. Does this make care better?

Don't get me wrong. I love computers. I actually worked at one of the first hospitals in southern USA to become computerized. I do not believe though, that computers have improved hospital care.

Back in the day of "three color pens", nurses had much more time to actually spend with their patients. We did not have to depend on nursing assistants to be our eyes, we had time to care for our patients ourselves. Patients were usually happier, and happy patients are less likely to sue the hospital. Super hospital acquired infections did not exist.

Many Roles, One Profession

More Recent Nursing Photo

Today's Nurse

Today's nurse is smart, and much better educated. Most begin their nursing career with a B.S in Nursing degree. Some come right out of school with a Masters Degree. They are computer savy, and probably couldn't imagine charting with pens. They are great with monitors and pumps, but not so great sometimes with nursing math, involving drip rates and drug conversions. They have never had to monitor drip rates on a free flowing IV. Pills come prepackaged at the time they are needed.

Nursing remains very fast paced, with no room for errors. Patients often have multiple IV lines, many IV meds, and are constantly being scheduled for procedures. Families are demanding, and expect their nurse to always have all the answers. Doctors are often difficult to get along with.

Nurses today must also quickly decide on an area of practice, and receive more training to become competent in their chosen specialty. Education is continuous, and certification becomes mandatory. Each area of a hospital is so specialized, that nurses are usually unable to be pulled to work in another area for which they have not trained.

Florence Nightingale would be proud. The image of nursing has surely improved. While a R.N. may still help with a bedpan at times, bedpans are no longer correlated as the main duty of a nurse's day. The image today is of a high tech nurse in scrubs, multitasking between patients, computers, and medications.

Nursing has come a long way over the years.


1.  Wikipedia - History of Nursing


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    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Great Hub, Susan. Thank you for sharing. The personal care nurses provide has always impressed me--it is indeed a noble & much needed calling. Blessings to you.

    • FrugallyHealthy profile image

      FrugallyHealthy 6 years ago from Brunswick, GA

      Great hub, Susan! I loved seeing the pictures!

    • susansisk profile image

      susansisk 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks for reading, Ken R. Abell and FrugallyHealthy. Nursing has changed so much over the last thirty years.

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Great hub. I'm glad that the white hats are gone!Nurses back then looked scary to children.(Well to!) Your memories are inspiring. I remember when nurses were in the rooms much more than they are today.

    • susansisk profile image

      susansisk 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks bayoulady. Looking back, I actually think the white uniforms looked good. They sort of made nurses look like nurses. I can see how the hats could be scary though.

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      yes, the uniforms were nice ,clean and crisp...but ooooh..the hats!LOL!

    • unicorn50.1959 profile image

      unicorn50.1959 6 years ago from Wales

      I thoroughly enjoyed this hub and although I trained and worked in the Nursing profession in the UK I can really understand where you are coming from when you say Nursing has changed so much over the last 20/30 years.It certainly has and I'm inclined to agree with you that it hasn't necessarily been to the benefit of the patients.

    • profile image

      loriamoore 6 years ago

      I have to say that I would like to see nurses once again wearing the white uniforms instead of scrubs.

    • susansisk profile image

      susansisk 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks for reading unicorn50.1959, and loriamoore. I would love to talk to someone who worked in the UK. As for the scrubs, they feel so comfortable, but looking back uniforms looked more professional.

    • Tammy L profile image

      Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

      My younger sister is an RN. She works mostly in nursing homes taking care of older patients. As for HER being computer savvy...she doesn't even know how to set up an email address. In the nursing homes she was worked, the D.O.N. does all the computer work.

    • susansisk profile image

      susansisk 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks 4 reading Tammy. I guess things are different in nursing homes than hospitals.

    • susansisk profile image

      susansisk 5 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks for reading. Sorry I have been so long to respond. I love hubpages, and my goal for this year is to get back into the swing of it.

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