A Nurse With Attitude

Where Dark Cynical Humor, Nursing Issues, and Politics Seem to Merge

Old School Nurse




By Webster’s Dictionary: noun – adhering to traditional policies or practices

We sometimes hear a nurse referred to as “old school.” I take that to mean “in practice” for twenty years or more, I for some reason, I never considered myself as an old nurse, but I have been doing it for a long time.

Weather you consider yourself there or not, here are a few comments I found from my friends at the forum “Allnurses.com” which may help define the old school nurse!

The old school nurse:

  1. Still wears her hair ABOVE the collar at work.
  2. Knows how to use a bath blanket and still prefers soap and water to body cleanser wipes.
  3. Owns a case of white leather shoe polish for a VERY distinctive pair of lace-up nursing shoes.
  4. Keeps a pack of mints in her pocket for post-op patients who have sore throats from the intubation.
  5. Wears ONLY two pieces of jewelry to work–a wristwatch and (if married) a plain wedding band.
  6. Keeps her school cap in a clear plastic tote on the shelf of her closet.
  7. Makes hospital corners on her home bed sheets.
  8. Always carries an extra pen–with BLUE ink to distinguish an original form from a copy–just in case the doctor “forgets” to return the one he or she borrowed.
  9. Looks the other way if something which breaks the rules is in the best interest of the patient.
  10. Believes that nursing is a calling.
  11. Still likes to wear her nursing pin.
  12. You never throw anything on the floor especially linen
  13. When putting a pillowcase on the pillow, the open end faces away from the door… to keep the TB at bay.
  14. You only have white underwear, to keep from showing through your uniforms.
  15. You believe that patient care comes before documentation.
  16. You still abbreviate everything.
  17. You thing Demerol and Phenergan mixed was better than the “pain pump.”
  18. You’re older than the doctors you work with.
  19. You tell the wining new nurses how you took care of 30 patients vs. their 6.
  20. “Treatment nurse,” Med nurse,” Ostomy nurse,” what’s the difference, you did it all.
  21. You’ll give a patient a bedpan and not wait for an aid.
  22. Your starting salary was $5.50/hr when factory workers made $7.20/hr.
  23. The way you checked sugar levels was with a “dip stick”
  24. You don’t recognize the sound of an IV pump (you never used them.)
  25. You wore white shoes and a uniform, and never in public.
  26. You remember smoking at the nurses station
  27. You remember glass syringes and paraldehyde
  28. You remember dying tube feedings blue to help distinguish between phlegm and aspiration.
  29. You remember glass thermometers being issued with the admit kit.
  30. There was no such thing as a “pyxis.” All drugs were kept in the unlocked patient drawer.
  31. TV wasn’t free. Patients had to pay the daily rate for the use of the TV. Then they had to wait for the attendant to come and turn the TV on.
  32. Not only could the nurses smoke cigarettes, but the patients could smoke in their rooms.
  33. PRBC’s were never given on a pump. You had to drip them in, and you had to keep checking to be sure they were actually dripping and not clotting.
  34. There was no such thing as a portable pulse ox. You checked a patients “saturation” by how well their nail beds blanched.
  35. Blood pressures were always taken manually and using real mercury.
  36. There were no such thing as IV pumps that figured your med dose and rate. You figured “drops per minute” on the 60 gtt. drip chamber.
  37. Remember mixing your own drips and potassium replacement using a Buretrol.
  38. You have ever measured medications in “grains” or “minims.”
  39. You remember mercury calibrating your ICU transducers.
  40. You have washed out the red rubber NGT to be resterilized.
  41. You remember when the narcs were kept in a locked drawer and you counted them against a big three ring book each shift.
  42. You remember filling all of the AM lab slips by hand
  43. You remember when candy stripers actually worked in the hospital.
  44. Manual crank beds!
  45. Paper and pencil Kardexes that you were expected to update every shift.
  46. On rounds you carried all the meds in little cups in a large tray.
  47. You remember tying the sheets behind the head and foot of the bed to keep them on straight because there were no fitted sheets?

To all of the old school nurses who are still out there: Thank you and wear that cap proudly! What would you add to this list?


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