Ahhhh...nostalgia. All the stories and experiences that come to mind when we take a walk down memory lane, especially when it comes to nursing! Our Old School Nurse article sparked a lot of comments and memories from our ModernNurse readers so we had to highlight a few of our favorites and share. Enjoy these gems and don't forget to add your own old school nurse memories in the comments section below.
1. "What about giving an iron injection z track or buttoning up 15 small hole buttons on your starched uniform. In nursing school I was sent to the Director of Nursing for dirty shoelaces! Major offense!! On duty we never had lunch or breaks and we did our patients respiratory treatments, range of motion, wound care, ostomy care, IV’s, transported our patients in their beds back and forth to surgery and x ray, passed and removed meal trays, kept track of our patients I and Os assisted Drs on rounds and watched for flagged charts for new orders to be transcribed and answered call lights for all patients not just the ones we were assigned. We gave a full report at the end of our shift that all the nurses attended. We knew our patients because we did it all….. and we loved the work, our patients, families and the blood sweat and tears that went with our “calling”-- Nurse Dee
2. "Graduated in ’76 and wore a hat about one year. Also wore white oxfords and support hose for about one year before I realized they were killing me. I bought Earth shoes and white socks to wear with my white polyester pant suits, so much better. I still do hospital corners and face the pillow opening away even at home. Who remembers smoking at the nurses station and getting ashtrays for patients and for the Drs?" -- nancynurse
3. "One thing I remember is that there was nothing disposable on the trays we took in the rooms for different procedures (foley insertions, enemas, etc.). Everything was metal and glass, so it could be re-sterilized. Bad enough the few times I dropped the tray after it had been used – but I dropped one I hadn’t used yet that had the 1000cc soap suds enema solution in the pitcher! I also remember dissolving Demerol tablets in sterile water to draw up in a syringe!" -- Nancy G.
4. "I’ve been an RN since 1976, but worked as an aide while still in high school back in 1970. I still work full time– now as an administrator, but I’m a nurse first. still take patients to the bathroom, give injections when my nurses are busy and I still cry while holding the hand of a dying patient. Now, my staff comes to me when they see an order such as for clycis and have never heard of it yet along use it. I tell them old nurse remedies and they crack up laughing. Maybe you remember some: we used Mecurochrome and Mayonnaise to heal wounds (don’t forget the heat lamp!) What were we thinking? applying sugar to a prolapsed rectum or uterus to help it constrict before pushing it back in. HHH enema. High, Hot and Hell of a lot. If you worked at a catholic hospital- you could not wear pants and the dress had to be below the knees. Oh, the good old days. Looking forward to retirement next year!!!" -- Rose Marie
5. "I was an CNA first then graduated from LPN 1973, white hose, hair off collar, cap. Got my AAS in Nursing 1981, still in white hose, cap and hair off the collar. Both of my caps are gone but none of the memories!! Baths, back rubs, bed pans. IV’s with drip counts and tape to the new mini infusers for ambulatory patients. Have done most of it all from mopping floors to home health care and now sit behind a computer all day taking symptom calls. From strict uniform policies to now working in my PJ’s if I want. We’ve come a long way and have a long way to go still!!" -- boxcaranne
6. "I was also a diploma nurse! We had excellent teachers and so much hands on nursing experience! When I started my 1st job in 1971, my head nurse told me I was her 1st pick to hire after about 4-5 other interviews. She was looking for a diploma nurse, because we already had so much clinical experience. I was promoted to assistant head nurse on the evening shift, after 3 years. After 9 years, I was asked to join the IV Therapy Dept. I was with them for 31 years! Back then we mixed most of the chemotherapy we gave IV push. I loved that job, (lots of times running to answer a Code Blue call). All the IV nurses had to go to the Codes, because we never knew who was free at the time of the call. I retired after 40 years, and became part time babysitter for our 2 granddaughters! I wouldn’t change a thing! ♡♡" -- Sherry G.
7. "I graduated from college in 1978. I got rid of my nursing cap as soon as possible. I always wore my hair twisted up in a bun hidden under the cap. So many of those things apply to me, especially the soap and water baths. I still do that, its not a bath unless you get the patient wet and keep them covered with a bath blanket. I never got the drip rate on an IV but we used a dial-a-flow for everything. One thing I’ve noticed that designates me old school is I still aspirate the syringe when giving injections. I’ve asked new students and they tell me that this isn’t taught in nursing school anymore. As for giving up a chair for a doctor, probably not so much. They had their dictation areas and we had our charting areas. All charts were kept in big 3 ring binders. It was a huge transition from white uniforms to colorful scrubs. I love the colorful scrubs. I tell the nursing students I work with that if you don’t love it with all your heart don’t be a nurse." -- Marilyn D.
8. "I started my nursing career in 1981 and I am still going, I love being an old school nurse. We had to give sitz bath for some skin condition, all nails must be cut short and nail polish was a no! no!, no eating or chewing gum on duty …Wow!!! It's very different out here now!" -- C D
9. "I graduated in 1975. There are times I still wear my cap. As a hospice nurse now, when I wear my ‘whites’ my geriatric folk listen to me. They know what I am saying should be adhered to. So easy to give medications when everyone else is “wearing” what they were trying to give him/her. Permanent stains on my white uniform from an exploded banana bag. Patient Kardex’s written in pencil. Never mind continuity of care – when a treatment or symptom was completed it was erased because they were all written in pencil. Kardex’s used for ‘report’ one shift to the next. Chest tubes connected to glass bottles sitting on the floor. Long rubber rectal tubes remained in place for long periods to relieve gas pressure after any type of GI surgery. Porcelain or metal bed pans. Glass bottles with own glass for drinking water. Hand cranked beds (unfortunately they are still around)." -- Linda
10. "I graduated in ’81 and can relate to everything in the article and comments. I had forgotten about the different colored ink for different shifts and always took pride in my freshly polished Nurse Mates. My hair was ALWAYS off my collar and I never forgot my school pin! When I wore a dress, white pantyhose were on my legs. LOL. I wore my cap for a long time and always enjoyed seeing the variety of styles worn by different schools. Ahhh…..the good old days!?" -- Cheryl
11. "Having a roll of silk tape in your pocket with bandage scissors. Wearing a cotton slip under your (dress) uniform. I graduated from a three year school in 1982. I loved my cap and wore it up until the late 90’s. It was always in the clear tote bag. I do have my nightingale lamp in my curio cabinet. i always wore lace up shoes and yes, I still make hospital corners on my bed!!! I even put my pillow cases on without touching the pillow and the pillow faces away from the door!!! Taping the glass IV bottles to time them and counting drops…micro and mini!!! Those were the good ol’ days. Standing up to give the doctor your seat. Charting long hand and using three colored pens…blue for days, green for evenings, and red for nights. Miss those days." -- Susan C.
And last but certainly not least...
12. "Remember the 1000 cc SS enema!" --Lori
Can you relate? Share your favorite old school memories in the comments section below.