Thursday, March 28, 2013

Confessions of an Old Nurse-Chapter 1

Capping, in nursing school was a big deal.
I don't remember which year we got our cap.  My memory is rotten as for dates!
I couldn't find a photo anywhere of Huron Road's caps and I don't have mine anymore.  This is a similar shape but ours had complicated pleats in the back.
To clean ours, you'd just take the pins out that were holding the pleats together and wash in the washing machine.  When it came out it was like a limp rag.  You'd then lay it on a flat surface and "paint" liquid starch on it full strength and "paste it to the front of your smooth refrigerator to dry!!  That's how I did it anyway : ))
Then you had to pleat the two sides of the back together again.

I think it's a shame that nurses don't wear their caps anymore.  I'm not even sure if they get capped in the nursing schools anymore.  We had to work so hard for the right to wear that cap.
Now, everyone in the hospital looks the same.  You can't tell the nurses from the lab people, the people in dietary and the housekeeping crew until you look closely at their name tags.
I wore my cap most of my nursing career until after I had worked in the ER awhile.

I wanted to mention that while I was in nursing school, the first open heart surgeries started to be preformed.  Although I never saw one, we saw the HUGE heart lung machine that the patient was put on during the surgery.  And, believe it or not, there was no CCU or ICU back then.  Those serious cardiac patients were on the regular surgical or medical floors!
Heart surgery patients stayed in the hospital at least 2 -3 weeks.  I think now, they're out in 4 days!!
(The great world of insurance and what it allows!!)

I do remember that I graduated in 1963.  I remember that because it's on the back of my pin.
My school pin.
You earned this at graduation.
This was always worn with your name tag under it.

Here's how some things were "way back then!"
 •The syringes were glass, sometimes metal, not plastic.
•The IV bottles were glass, not plastic bags.
•Most all meds were kept on the floors and we had to actually mix a lot of them.
•Foley catheters and lavage tubes were rubber!
•We had little sterilizers on the floor and sterilized certain things.  
(Bigger things went to Central Supply to be sterilized.)
•Patient's food was good!
•We only wore gloves for sterile procedures.  (And of course really messy things)
• It was long before the discovery of Aides and we didn't wear gloves to start IV's etc.
We learned to write good nurse's notes.  And each patient had a metal chart holder with real paper nurses and doctors notes, lab and surgical reports.
(Of course, no computers back then.)
I'll mention more things as I remember them!
I already sound ancient, don't I!!!!!!!
I saw a lot of different treatment for conditions as research progressed.

I got average grades in nursing school.  As students, we lived in a dormitory across the street from the hospital; Belmore Hall. 
Wickersham was my maiden name.
I have great memories of dorm life and will save that for next time.
Thanks for looking in.  I'd love hearing from you.



  1. I love your nursing cap (even if it's not the actual one!). It must be amazing for you to see how many things have changed. I agree with you that the nurses should be dressed differently than the rest of the staff. Where I worked, there was sort of an heirarchy with the nurses. The respiratory nurses weren't as respected by the Dr's as say the Oncology nurses were. Did you see that back then or was there equality?

  2. I remember visiting an uncle in hospital with my cousins in the sixties we were only kids and noisy the nursing sister told us to go outside because we were to noisy, we obeyed without question because she was a real dominate figure and looked the part now they do not seam the same the uniforms do not radiate the same power.

  3. Looking back, Shirley, is such a heart warming experience...for you and us! Happy Easter, my friend!...:)JP


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