When I was 25-nursing circa 1979
Very busy week for so many reasons, not the least of which is a milestone for my family: my oldest baby is 25 years old. I can hardly believe I have lived long enough to have a child who is a quarter century old (although she cringes when she hears me describe her age in terms of fractional centuries...).
When I was 25, the world was a different place, and I don't mean disco dancing and hair with wings. I was 25 in 1979 (do the math, if you're interested) and here's what it looked like:
~~Navy enlisted wife living and working thousands of miles away from home and family.
~~Half of the nursing staff: ditto above.
~~I worked in a mid-size community hospital on a med-surg floor that had a few telemetry beds.
~~I worked rotating shifts: days, evenings, and nights. Occasionally a night shift would be followed by a "day off" and then a day shift.
~~I became enamored of coffee in any form, due to above. An addiction that has followed me into middle age.
~~I wore a cap, white uniform, white hose, white socks.
~~Nurses were called by their last names. Period. If you were Jane Smith, everyone addressed you as "Smith". This was a Southern cultural norm for hospitals at the time; it was a token of respect. NO DOCTOR EVER addressed me by first name, after I called him (most were him!) by his full title. I called them "Dr. Smith" and they called me "Smith".
~~Evenings and nights, there was no ancillary staff. Nurses did all the 12 lead EKGs and breathing treatments. 12 lead EKGs were done by--gasp!--moving the leads around and then taking a six second strip of each lead placement. One walked around saying to oneself "first intercostal space right sternal border; first intercostal space left sternal border..." and praying no one needed an EKG because:
~~I had 21 patients on evenings, 42 on nights. On evenings, I was the "team leader" on one entire side of a nursing unit, with ten double rooms and one single. I had two LPNS and two nursing assistants for my team. On nights, I had one LPN and one assistant on each team. Me, 2 LPNs, and two assistants for 42 patients.
~~Need it be said no one sat in front of the telemetry monitors? When one got a chance, one picked up the strips that were piling all over the desk and floor from unanswered alarms, hoping not to see some horrible thing. Especially as that would mean pulling out the EKG machine with the little rubber squeezy lead things.
~~I started my own IVs. However, not all patients had IVs as they do now. Probably only ten out of 21. Nights, probably 20 out of 42.
~~Everyone needing a drip of IV meds of any kind (except antibiotics) went to ICU.
~~Post-op cholecystectomies went to ICU overnight.
~~Post-op open heart patients stayed five days in ICU.
~~I was younger than all the doctors.
I worked long enough in that hospital (almost five years, a long time for a Navy family to stay in one place!) to see many changes. Caps became optional a few years later. Staffing ratios were improved by adding RNs to each shift. The telemetry beds were moved to a new "subacute ICU", which I transferred to and which was exciting enough that I eventually moved to ICU. Acuity levels went up. People that used to stay five days post hysterectomy (for instance) stayed one or two.
Now, I am older than most of the doctors.
I still like that last-name policy, though.