Remember the Good Old Days?

This is a reprint of a set of regulations describing the duties of a bedside nurse in an American hospital in 1887. Taken from “Bright Corridors” a publication of Lutheran Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, the list sets us to wondering how many students would enter schools of nursing today if these rules applied.

In addition to caring for your 50 patients, each bedside nurse will follow these regulations:

  1. Daily sweeping and mop floors of your ward and dust the patient’s furniture and window sills.
  2. Maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing a scuttle of coal for the day’s business.
  3. Light is important to observe a patient’s condition therefore, each day fill kerosene lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks. Wash the windows once a week.
  4. The nurses notes are important in aiding the physician’s work. Use pens carefully.
  5. Each nurse on duty will report every day at 7:00 a.m. and leave at 8:00 p.m., except on the Sabbath and then you will be off from 12:00 noon until 2:00 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 if you attend church regularly.
  7. Each nurse should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of her earnings for her own benefits during her declining years, so that she will not become a burden. For example, if you earn $30.00 a month you should set aside $15.00.
  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 reason to suspect her worth, intentions and integrity.
  9. The nurse who performs her labors, serves her patients and doctors faithfully and without fault for a period of five years will be given an increase in pay by the hospital administration of five cents a day; providing there are no hospital debts that are outstanding.