Nursing is a profession that’s been around since the beginning of time. Tough-minded healthcare providers have been treating the sick for centuries through war, famine, and the plague. Nurses were the ones that had to deal with the real-life implications of living in a cruel, often unjust world. But providing healthcare back in the early 1900s wasn’t the same as it is today. Of course, our medical technology has improved considerably over the last 100 years, and so has the relationship between a nurse and their patient. Take a look at some of the more surprising nurse rules from the early 1900s.
Don’t Forget Your Coal
Before the days of central heating and air conditioning, temperature control was a major concern for nurses. In addition to taking care of the patients, they also had to make sure the room was a decent temperature. Otherwise, their patients might catch a cold, or their condition might suddenly deteriorate. Keeping a ward full of sick patients warm meant the nurses had to bring some coal to work or haul some up from the basement or the outside shed and put in the fire. Most hospitals were kept warm using the black, chalky substance, so you can bet that many of the nurses of the 1900s weren’t exactly spick and span. Hopefully, they washed their hands before tending to their patients.
Be a Jack of All Trades
Back in the day, nurses had a lot of responsibilities on their plate. They typically had to play any role that came their way when treating a patient on their own or assisting the doctor. There weren’t specialists with their separate departments. Everyone pitched in as much as they could. There was no documented scope of practice for nurses; they simply had to be a team player and help out in any way they could. It was especially true during times of war and famine, or if the doctor was overwhelmed with patients. The nurses on staff had to roll up their sleeves and take care of gruesome matters themselves. Today, nurses typically provide primary and secondary care with a clearly defined set of responsibilities.
Stay Away from Men
In many cases, nurses were forbidden to get married. The hospital would do everything it could to retain the nurses they had on staff, so there was a lot of incentive to limit a nurse’s personal life as much as possible. It meant having nurses live at the facility and enforcing strict curfew rules. If nurses had the time and the freedom to pursue courtship, some of them would surely give up their profession to raise a family and take care of their husband. Of course, times have changed a great deal since the early 1900s. Today, nurses are free to do as they please when they get out of work.
Providing healthcare certainly isn’t what it used to be. Would you have been a nurse if you were alive 100 years ago? Let us know!