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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

I can’t think of a more noble, necessary profession. I also can’t think of any reason why I would want to be one. What little I know of nursing seems stressful and thankless. It also seems like the last few years have seen an uptick in the demand and increase for healthcare workers.
Nurse Training School Manual early 20th century

Is it any easier now than, say 100 years ago? I recently purchased this manual from a local antique shop. Old rule books and manuals are fun to examine and imagine what it was like to have to go “by the book.”
Nurse Training School Manual early 20th century rules

This small book has another mystery behind it, aside from where it was used, I am most interested as to when it was used. This one is fairly vague which made it almost impossible to date. There is a clue within one of the pages if you want to fathom a guess.
Nurse Training School Manual early 20th century - more rules

Shifts were 12 hours each day, all other times nurse trainees are on call for emergencies. Off duty hours were only 4 hours maximum on Sundays and one half day each week, each day there were only two hours off the clock. Tardiness just five minutes and just at lunch warranted an explanation to the dining room supervisor. This was strict. 

Page 5 is where you can surmise the time period. The style of dress for a nurse’ uniform may have been more complicated for the sake of the service she was providing but once you see the corset cover in the laundry list you can bet that this is at least the very early 20th century. 

There is one more clue on the last page in which the term “Etherizing Nurses” is used. My limited research can only pin down a wide period in both the 19th and 20th centuries where ether is used as an anesthetic. 

I’ve made my guess for this to be around the first World War. The need for nurses would have been great and the need for disciplined training even greater. What do you think?

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