Doctor Anonymous, do you remember these young ladies?
This picture was taken many years ago at a hospital golf tournament before doctors carried beepers or cell phones. These nurses are searching for Dr. A because they need orders on a new patient.
The average age of a nurse is somewhere between 48-50 years old. And if you’re in that age range like I am, you know how much things have changed since you graduated from nursing school.
Do you remember when there were no IV pumps? Nurses had to run IVs by timing how fast the fluid was running through the IV chamber. Hanging piggyback antibiotics was always an adventure, especially if you were running IVs on multiple patients. The trick was getting back in time to switch bottles once the piggyback was empty, otherwise the patient’s IV would clot off.
Do you remember when there were no cell phones or beepers? It wasn’t easy tracking down a doctor when you needed something. Finding the doctor after hours was an art, and required a wealth of information at your fingertips. I learned the favorite watering hole of every doctor at the hospital. I knew the names of their wives, and the names and phone numbers of their mistresses. Tracking down a doctor took guts. On occasion, when a doctor took his phone off the hook because he didn’t want to be bothered, I would have the police go and knock on his front door, and tell him to put the phone back on the hook.
Do you remember when there were no computers or fax machines? Nurses were expected to be stenographers, typing up reports they received over the phone from other hospital departments, and hand delivering them to the doctors as they made their rounds. Nurses were also expected to give up their seat when a doctor came into the nurses’ station.
Do you remember when you HAD to wear a white dress, white nylons and nursing shoes, and a nurse’s cap? The dress was hard to keep white (you know what I mean), the nylons were uncomfortable and would run, and the hat was always getting tangled up in IV tubing while you were counting those infernal drops. At the end of my shift, I looked more like a bag lady than an angel of mercy.
There are so many things I remember, and so many things I wish I could forget. What do you remember about the good old days?