A Little History:
It’s 1958 and Ensign Thomas Eggleston is giving an inservice to US Navy Nurses LT. Frances Hogan, LCDR Magie Ziskovsky, and LCDR Edna Schnips about the Van Der Graaff teletherapy machine. The nurses were participating in the Nuclear Nursing Course at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. This machine was considered a medical breakthrough in its day. It looks antiquated now doesn’t it? I can only imagine what these Navy nurses were thinking while they stood next to this medical wonder.

Things have changed since I became a nurse. There were no CAT Scans or MRI machines when I graduated from school. There were no IV pumps either. We ran our IVs by counting drops that flowed into a drip chamber, and we monitored the hourly flow rate by glancing at a strip of medical tape that we marked off in CCs and ran down the side of each IV bottle. The nursing text books were different back then, too. There was no mention of AIDS and a diagnosis of Cancer was a death sentence. It was before the Digital Age, so doctors wrote their illegible orders in paper charts. Like the nurses who came before me, I was amazed by each new technological breakthrough, and I wondered about the things to come.

And indeed, things kept changing throughout the years, and sometimes it was hard to keep up. For example, I remember the first time I worked with patients who received TPN hyperalimentation. It’s commonplace now, but back then TPN was viewed as a futuristic medical intervention. The doctors educated the nurses about TPN. They brought in medical journals for us to read, and they gave us inservices about the new lifesaving fluids. Every day the doctors would write new TPN orders in the charts, and we would transcribe the orders onto TNP recipe cards and add the appropriate amounts of insulin and electrolytes to each patient’s IV bottle at the nurses station. We didn’t mix our IV fluids under a laminar air flow hood. I know that sounds really barbaric now, but back then that was standard nursing procedure.

Now that I am nearing my golden years, I wonder what future generations will see during their nursing careers. I bet they see advancements that we can’t even imagine. I even bet that they view our current cutting edge technology as quaint throwbacks to a simpler time. I wish I could be around to see the things to come.