Nursing is a highly respected position when it comes to patient care. Nurses work long, hard hours doing one of the most stressful jobs out there. Nurses study for years to get good at what they do. They study the human body, medicines, and a thousand other things that most of us wouldn’t understand, even if we saw a diagram! Even with all of their extensive knowledge, nursing doesn’t always get the recognition that they deserve.
This list comes from over 120 years in the past. These were mandatory guidelines that dictated the life of a nurse in 1887, and if you read through it, you’ll understand how very seriously this job was taken since its establishment. The rules may have changed in the past 100+ years, but they are no less grueling than they were then! Only now, there’s a bit more freedom when it comes to what they can do with their days off. Thank goodness.
1887 Nursing Job Description
In addition to caring for your 50 patients, each bedside nurse will follow these regulations:
1. Daily sweep and mop the floors of your ward, dust the patient’s furniture and window sills.
2. Maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing in a scuttle of coal for the day’s business.
3. Light is important to observe the patient’s condition. Therefore, each day fill kerosene lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks.
4. The nurse’s notes are important in aiding your physician’s work. Make your pens carefully; you may whittle nibs to your individual taste.
5. Each nurse on day duty will report every day at 7 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m., except on the Sabbath, on which day she will be off from 12 noon to 2 p.m.
6. Graduate nurses in good standing with the director of nurses will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if you go regularly to church.
7. Each nurse should lay aside from each payday a goodly sum of her earnings for her benefits during her declining years, so that she will not become a burden. For example, if you earn $30 a month, you should set aside $15.
8. Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty shop or frequents dance halls will give the director of nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions and integrity.
9. The nurse who performs her labors [and] serves her patients and doctors faithfully and without fault for a period of five years will be given an increase by the hospital administration of five cents per day.
The labor laws have changed quite a bit since that time, but as you can see, the profession was just as important and respected as it is today. Patient care has always been an essential part of a functioning hospital, and these nurses took so much pride in their work that they devoted nearly all of their time to their work. With such drive, and such purpose, being a nurse was a job that they could be proud of until the day that they died. I hope one day to feel such a sense of pride. These women truly were remarkable.
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