Nursing Voices

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Let's Hear it For "Old School" at Change of Shift

Welcome to Change of Shift. I want to thank Kim from Emergiblog for allowing me to serve as host. Today’s issue of CoS is a salute to old school nurses. What’s an old school nurse? They are the individuals who went into the profession back in the “good old days” of nursing. These nurses attended hospital nursing schools, surrendered their chairs whenever a doctor walked into the nurses station, and they wore nursing caps. Take a look at these ladies. They were tough, and they gave excellent patient care. I wonder what these good old gals would think about what’s going on in today's world of nursing. I think that they would be shocked, as well as amused, by some of the things that are going on inside of the profession. Let’s give a big cheer to our predecessors and start Change of Shift!

My first post comes from a nurse named Naughty. She doesn’t have blog of her own, so she asked me to post this on my blog for CoS. I couldn’t refuse after I read her letter. Naughty comes from a family of nurses, which is common among old school nurses. This picture reminds me of how we pass our nursing traditions on to the next generations.

She writes:

Hello Mother Jones, RN

I am celebrating 30 years as a nurse this year. In my career, I have had the good fortune to have many experiences including, but not limited to : NICU nurse, Neonatal Transport, Staff Education, Shift Coordinator, School Nurse, School Nurse Practitioner, General Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Research Coordinator. How many careers can offer that broad expanse of opportunity? I have loved every day of this career; funny, but when I made my decision to go to nursing school, it was made somewhat blindly. My mom was a Navy Nurse, and still practicing when she died (young, at the age of 40). I fell into it because I loved biology, liked being with people, didn’t want to be in school for an eternity, and didn’t want my job to become my life. When I graduated I thought I could save the world. Now that I am 51, my ‘world’ only encompasses several dozen patients – but guess what? I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do just that little. But my greatest accomplishment? My love of nursing inspired another young person to enter the profession. She watched my joy and tears as I talked about the people I took care of each day. She wanted the same for herself. When she talks about her trip to South Africa to do AIDS research, or talking about the County ER practicum, her eyes glow. . . Her starting job is at a children’s hospital in the cardiac ICU. She won an award at her pinning ceremony for clinical excellence. How do I know so well? She is my daughter, and I thank God that she is so happy, and has chosen a career that makes her heart sing. Will she survive? I think she will, and here is why. She knows that having a social life and a network of friends is of paramount importance – work is only part of life, albeit an important one. She is willing and capable of working hard. She is organized but not anal. Rules are generally followed, but if they do not make sense, she acknowledges the frustration, does what is needed, and moves on. She does not dwell on meaningless detail. I have had many nursing faculty in my career who could learn from her approach! The biggest drawback to nursing? Too many women. Not enough Wo-Men. Sometimes petty, sometimes backstabbing. Sometimes not assertive enough, and sometimes picking too much on the interns. Too much blame on others at times, too little taking the bull by the horns. By nature, a caring profession, and therefore doing anything to make patients better, which takes pressure off the system that doesn’t serve, only delaying the meltdown. Using technology and allowing it to override our gut. A divided profession in regards to academic preparation. And last but not least, *&(^$%$ nursing theory. What do I love? Darn near everything. Every memory. Polly, Debbie, Phyllis, Karen, Patrick, Billy, Derrick, Sheniqua, Jerome, Aiden, Lakesha. More than a few opportunities to make a small (sometimes big) difference. A career that allowed me to go to grad school, and raise my family. Working with wonderful people who actually gave a damn – from the techs to the surgeons and all in between. And someday, soon I hope, one of them will be involved in repairing this broken health care system. It will take courage and perseverance, so we can’t count on a politician. My deepest regards and affection to all of you who have made my life rich beyond my dreams.


Thanks, Naughty, for you letter. Start thinking about launching a blog. You're a very good writer.

Look at the wicked smile on that woman's face. I wonder what this old school nurse was thinking about when the photographer snapped her picture. She looks spunky, and I bet that she was smart, too. Nurse K from Crass Pollination reminds me of an old school nurse. She works her butt off under difficult conditions while delievering excellent nursing care. And she's spunky and smart. Nurse K shows her serious side in this post about sub-par-care. Then she shows us her spunky side in this post about one of her "favorite" patients who keeps coming back into her ER.

My favorite rabble-rouser, Monkeygirl, from Musings of a Highly Trained Monkey submitted this post about a STUPID rabble-rouser who showed up in her emergency. Read about the dangers of mixing stupidity with alcohol. Some people are just too dumb for words.

This old school nurse is an army flight nurse during World War II. She’s taking care of wounded GIs on a plane that was a flying ambulance. She looks posed and confident. ERNursey talks about what goes on in her emergency room in her post, How the ER Works. I’m sure that ERNursey and her post would impress our old school army nurse. I also think that she would be very interested in ERNursey's post about nurse to patient ratios. A California hospital is cutting corners at the expense of patient care. Old school nurses would never tolerate this crap, and neither should we.

The one and only Kim from Emergiblog writes about a faceless old school nurse. Really! She also writes about patients who treat their nurses like they are invisible.

Emily from CRZEGRL, FLIGHT NURSE, sent in this post about flight nursing. She sent in a lot of good information, so check her post out. CRZEGRL, AKA Emily, is also a writer over at Nursing Jobs. Org. Read her biography, I am a Nurse.

Old school nurses respected and admired old school physicians. At least the ones who listened to their opinions, and who valued them as colleagues. The same holds true today, and I’d like to welcome our esteemed physician and colleague to CoS. Aggravated DocSurg writes about his distain for The Borg... I mean JCAHO. I admire anyone who hates JCAHO as much as I do.

I want to welcome #1 Dinosaur from Musings of a Dinosaur to Change of Shift. With a name like #1 Dinosaur, you know that this doc is old school. #1 Dinosaur sent in a post about the perils of the open-ended question in a new patient interview. Read it and learn. You'll be glad that you did.

Therapy Doc from Everyone Needs Therapy is a lot like an old school nurse. She believes that pills won’t cure everything under the sun. Read her post about ADHD.

Old school nurses depend on the hospital pharmacist to deliver top notched pharmaceutical for hospital use. I loved the pharmacist that worked at my hospital when I was in nursing school. He helped us take good care of our patients, and he helped me get through my pharmacology class. I wonder if this pharmacist is doing the same for this old school student nurse. I still love pharmacists. Drugmonkey from Your Pharmacist May Hate You submitted this entertaining book review. This guy just cracks me up.

You can tell that this nursing instructor is an old school nurse. She proudly wears her nursing cap as she holds her head up high. I found this picture in a nursing school yearbook that was published back in 1961. Nurse Practitioners Save Lives writes about her most memorable nursing instructors. Old school nurses are tough on their students because they want them to succeed in the nursing profession.

May from About a Nurse writes about a very sad day at work. Old school nursing instructors prepare students to face days like this.

Old school nursing instructors were notorious for yelling at students who used poor body mechanics while caring for their patients at the bedside. Nothing will kill a nursing career faster than a bad back. Dean Moyer from Rebuild Your Back sent in the post about acute back pain. Read his post and start rebuilding your back.

The photo of these old school nurses is from 1938. These London nurses are returning to work after they ended their strike. They were striking in order to improve working conditions. Sound familiar? Some things never change. Tammy Swofford sent in this post about Texas nurses who want to unionize.

I hope these nurses won employer concessions concerning retirement. I’ve been posting over at Nursing Jobs. Org. Check out my post about Travel Nursing: The New Retirement. Retirement is changing, and nurses need to change with the times in order to survive their "Golden Years."

Old school nurses would see a lot of things while caring for their patients at the bedside. They witnessed life and death dramas just like we do today. Nurse Kathy from Nurse Connect submitted this post about a very special love story. Get your Kleenex ready. You’re going to need them. Kathy also submitted two other excellent posts. Please check out her posts about nursing responsibilities, and how active listening can improve patient care as well as the workplace.

This nurse is a bookworm. I bet this nurse was strong, too. Look at the size of those books. Those books look like they weigh at least twenty pounds apiece. Old school nurses who loved to read lived in the hospital’s library. Of course this picture was taken back in the days before the Internet. Now bookworms have the option of sitting in front of their computers all day long. Alisa Miller from Nursing Degree. Net writes about the 50 best medical libraries on the web. I'm sure that this nurse would check out Alisa's post.

On behalf of all the old school nurses and their patients, I want to thank you for dropping by Change of Shift. Next edition will be hosted by Braden at 20 Out of 10: Musings of an Emergency Room Nurse on June 26th. Send in your submissions via Blog Carnival or to “braden at bkellis dot com". See you there!


Blogger Kim said...

Wow! What a great edition! Those caps were either making my skin crawl or giving me a warm feeling inside (yeah, I'm weird...)

Thanks for doing (as usual) a fantastic job!

11:13 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

I was just thinking the same thing. Not only about another great job... but all the great old pictures and the variety of uniforms and caps to go with them. Some of those caps...

Thanks for including my post. :)

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, Mother Jones, our sense of style is still atrocious as nurses. I love the old pictures! Thank you for including my post too.


1:52 PM  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

An exceptional post. Everything did look so much cleaner then.

1:52 PM  
Blogger LicensedToILL said...

Excellent post. Helps me put it the biz into perspective.

4:28 PM  
Blogger marachne said...

So, MJ, were you snooping in my mom's drawers? She was an army air corps nurse in WWII -- what was called an "air evacuation nurse" and I have a picture very like the one for this post of her "flying ambulance." As her patients were pretty stable, the only people on her flights (mostly from Cairo to New Delhi) were the pts, herself, a sgt who was her orderly the pilot and navigator -- talk about nursing autonomy! (especially for the 1940's)

6:15 PM  
Blogger ERnursey said...

Wow! Great edition and GREAT pictures. Thanks for including two of my posts.

7:59 PM  
Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Excellent job! Many thanks for including my post.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Braden said...

Very nice job. I enjoyed the travel back in time, and I am very glad that I didn't have to wear the white cap (or the dress).

One heads up is that the next change of shift will actually be hosted over at my blog on June 26th. Submissions can be sent to me by emailing pererau at gmail com or you can send them to Kim and she will forward them on to me.


10:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for including my post in this edition. You must not have gotten my inclusion from my other site NP's Place. Maybe next time!

11:49 PM  
Blogger MOJITOGIRL said...

Excellent article! It reminded me of nursing school ( I went to a hospital diploma nursing program) and worked for several years in a Catholic hospital where they still had nuns in active nursing duty. I feel proud to be in a profession which has such a sense of history and the ability to rise to any occasion. Technology has brought us a long way, but nothing substitutes good old fashioned tender loving care!

7:18 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You were named as an honorable mention this week on for this fantastic, in depth blog post! Loved the pictures too.


10:02 AM  
Blogger Mother Jones RN said...

Brandon, thanks for the heads up about I am honored.


2:09 PM  
Blogger therapydoc said...

Thanks for including me in the Old School. I like that.

Just one small thing. Therapydoc is actually a "she". :)

I'll try to read everybody.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Mother Jones RN said...

Oops, sorry Therapy Doc. Corrections are in place.


9:10 PM  
Blogger emily said...

I can't believe I missed linking to you sooner! Great job btw...glad I have only had to wear a cap ONCE in my life, wow!

11:47 PM  
Blogger NewGradNurse said...

my neighbor had to leave nursing school taught by the "big hospital" because she wanted to get married. she's retired now and works retail part time. I can't help bu think what a wonderful experience she missed out on.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice to see old school caps...

and nice to see a little piece of history for our profession

good luck ;)

2:34 AM  

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