The first topic I’d like to inscribe in all your open minds is the change in healthcare. The first Nursing institution was not established until sometime during the Crimean War, in the 1850s. Wow! I guess you all are wondering how on earth “nurses” could care legally for patients, right? The answer is simple, we had no law! Nurses were “self-proclaimed” and usually of low stature, many times prostitutes and orphans.
Not until a little lady named Florence Nightingale did what we came to believe and acknowledge the need for formal nursing education and sanitation laws.
We would all be absolutely repulsed if we were to be taken care of in a hospital before Nightingale stepped in.
Here are some rules of employment for Nursing Attendants- 1789
No dirt, rags or bones may be thrown from the windows.
Nurses are to punctually shift the bed and body linen of patients once in a fortnight (2 weeks), their shirts once in four days, their drawers and stockings once a week or oftener, if found necessary.
All nurses who disobey orders, get drunk, neglect their patients, quarrel with men, shall be immediately discharged.
Of course I immediately concentrate on the “no bones to be thrown from windows” line. Bones?! How barbaric! Can you imagine pulling up at your nearest hospital and getting a nice little crack in your windshield because of a falling femur?!
Secondly, I understand rules of sanitation were not yet in place, and people did not yet know how germ-infested one’s apparel gets after FOUR whole days without changing! Imagine if a surgery was performed, all the drainage that would be stuck to that poor patient’s shirt! Imagine how disgusting and low that patient must have felt. Today, one of the reasons we call for such magnitude concerning hygiene is, “to restore health and cleanliness and increase patient’s self-image.”
Lastly, I simply must address the last rule. “immediately discharged?!” That’s it?! Today, you’d have your license revoked, be banned from future retesting or re-licensing and/or have to face the court of law in regards to negligence!
Nightingale is single handedly responsible for changing the negative connotation of nursing to a clean and positive one. Once Nightingale began the nurses schooling system in England, she demanded that all the students were to be:
35-50 years old.
Matronly and plain looking.
Neat, orderly, sober and industrious, with a serious disposition.
Now, I don’t know about the whole age or plain thing, because I think I’m pretty far from that, as are most women these days; however, I think it is absolutely crucial for a nursing student to be neat, orderly, definitely sober, industrious with a serious disposition.
I want all of you to keep in mind that all of her changing-the-system work was going on in England. Not America. It actually wasn’t until after the Civil War did we really begin to pay attention to the same things Nightingale was changing in England. The school’s were very much different and the standards were not that high of students, who learned primarily from 12 hour shifts cleaning, moving patients and so forth. They also studied under a physician with very little lecturing and no time for questions.
So thank you Florence Nightingale, for setting the standards so high for us all. I’m sure someone else would have eventually stepped in, but I’m glad anti-bacterial is everywhere and the standards we swear by are the cleanest of them all!