Someone rightly said that ‘Nurse is just another word to describe a person strong enough to tolerate everything and soft enough to understand everyone.’ They are an important pillar of the medical fraternity and their contribution is of paramount importance. Though many do not realize their hardships and undermine them, the knowledge of medicine they possess is at par with that of doctors and they have more direct interaction with the patient than the doctor ever has. They do much for the patient than their own family ever does; it’s not an easy task to be cleaning and assisting one in their bowel movements and these nurses do it without complaining.
But history hasn’t been kind to the angels in the profession. In the year 1887, the nursing staff had to adhere to a set of weird and sometimes outrageous norms. Also the hospitals were mostly understaffed and each nurse had to oversee as many as 50 patients. The following is a compilation of the nine weird dictums that the nurses had to mandatorily follow everytime.
1. Apart from nursing duties the caregivers even had to discharge cleaning chores too which included dusting patient’s furniture and windows and wiping the floors.
2. As air conditioning was not invented then, each nurse had to carry a scuttle of coals for maintaining even temperatures.
3. As electricity had not yet been introduced for commercial uses, the hospitals used kerosene lamps, which were maintained by nurses.
4. Apart from assisting the doctor, the caregivers had to maintain diligent notes of the medicine man’s work.
5. They had inhumane working hours which started from 7 a.m. in the morning to 8 p.m. at night. There were no weekly-offs and the only respite they had was on the day of Sabbath, when they would be allowed to take leave at 2 p.m.
6. Graduate nurses were allowed to take one day off each week to go on dates. And if they attended church they could take another evening, provided they were on good terms with their seniors.
7. Saving a chunk for dire times is definitely wise but in those days, nurses had to set about at least 50 % of their salary as a general rule of thumb.
8. They had to follow a strict code of conduct and smoking, drinking or even visiting salons or attending dance balls, was strictly prohibited. If one were to found indulging in any of the aforesaid, they would be answerable to their superiors.
9. However, the nurses who served with passion and without any incident for a period of five years were entitled to a raise of five cents a day.