9 Strict Rules Nurses Had To Follow Back in 1887

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There are certain jobs that require serving your fellow man in ways that are decidedly heroic. From firefighters, to police officers, to soldiers, all these positions involve an element of risk and danger that fall within the descriptive category of “heroes” in our society.

However, there is a job position that doesn’t involve risk and danger at all that is, at the same time, heroic: nursing. A profession that doesn’t garner much recognition, yet requires a spirit of selflessness nonetheless, nursing is a tough, demanding field.

Nurses not only work to save lives, they give the patient compassion, kindness and comfort that emotionally helps patients heal and see the light out of their condition.

Are you willing to go on a nostalgic journey? We’ll go over nine strict rules nurses had to follow back in 1887 that may seem archaic and confusing to us today. Each nurse had to carry out these daily rules on top of caring for dozens of patients.

1. A daily sweeping and mopping of the floors of the ward as well as a dusting of the patient’s window sills and furniture.

Flickr/Boston Public Library
Flickr/Boston Public Library

2. Hauling and kindling coal to maintain an even temperature in the ward.

3. Making sure there is ample light illuminating the ward. Cleaning chimneys, filling kerosene lamps and trimming candle wicks.

4. Keeping notes of the patient’s condition for the physician.

U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense

5. Working on a strict schedule of 7 a.m to 8 p.m. every day except on Sunday, on which day all nurses have noon to 2 p.m. off.

6. Graduate nurses who were doing well with their tasks get an evening off each week for courting reasons, to be chaperoned by the director of nurses. The same nurses received two evenings off a week if they went regularly to church.

University at Buffalo
University at Buffalo

7. Nurses were expected to set aside from each payday a sum of her earnings for future retirement. For instance, saving $15 from a monthly pay of $30.

8. Nurses who smoked, drank liquor, got their hair done at a beauty parlor, or visited dance halls had their integrity, intentions and worth questioned by the director of nurses.

9. Nurses who worked well and served their patients and physicians diligently throughout a period of five years saw their wages increased by five cents a day.

Despite the drastic changes, our nurses still perform the same heroic role in society — helping our sick and saving lives daily.

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