Meet Nurse Mary Robison, Night Superintendent of Bradford Hospital. The hospital is located in Pennsylvania, and I found this picture in their nursing school yearbook that was published in 1929. Nurse Robison was an old school nursing supervisor that knew her stuff. I met a lot of supervisors like Mary when I was in nursing school. Those ladies could do anything twice as well as anyone else, and they wouldn’t ask you to do anything that they wouldn’t do themselves. They weren’t pencil-pushing administrators who just gave orders and couldn’t find their way out of a box.

My favorite nursing supervisor was a woman named Norma. Everyone in the hospital called her Stormin’ Norma because she blew through the halls like a hurricane when she did her rounds in the hospital. And make no mistake about it. It was her hospital while she was on the clock. Norma taught me everything that I know about managing an emergency situation. She said that the first rule of handling any emergency was not to panic. She told me that panic is a nurse’s enemy. Keep it out of your heart and your patient has a better chance of seeing another day. The second rule is to keep the patient breathing at all costs. Call the doctor for orders, even if it’s in the middle of the night, before things turn into a nightmare for you and your patient. The third rule was to CYA. Document everything you did during the emergency in the chart. She used to say, “Write a book about what you did. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.”

Words to live by, don’t you think? There is a special place in heaven for old school nursing supervisors.

Speaking of nursing supervisors, I had a chat with my nursing supervisor last night. She’s old school and she’s really a sweet lady with a great big heart. She was on my unit last night dealing with a few administrative issues, and before she left she announced some news. She told us that a survey conducted by a hospital organization just proved that the Greatest Hospital in the World is a great place to work. Apparently we have a low turnover rate, and very few job listings for nurses, therefore we are viewed as an employment Mecca. My coworkers and I snickered. We couldn’t help it. It just happened. The nursing supervisor looked perplexed. The other nurses pointed out GHW is the only hospital in our area and that’s why nurses don’t leave. I said that GHW works us to death so they don’t have to hire new nurses. I think the supervisor was sorry she said anything about the survey. Oh well, live and learn.