Nurses In 1887 Had To Follow These Nine Essential Rules


Our world is filled with heroes, and although we often revere those individuals who fight for our country, fight fires or defend us from crime, there also heroes who tend to us when we’re sick and injured. They take care of our daily needs while at our bedside…I’m speaking of nurses. They not only care for us physically, but emotionally as well. Their kindness when we at our worst can make a lasting impression.

The profession of nursing has changed over the years as hospitals, healthcare and technology has evolved. It’s interesting, though, to reflect back at how nursing has changed. This list of rules for a “bedside” nurse dates back to 1887. Some of the rules may seem strange to us now, but they also reveal just how hardworking and dedicated nurses were over a century ago.


The following job description was given to floor nurses by a hospital in 1887:

1. Daily sweep and mop the floors of your ward, dust the patient’s furniture and window sills.


2. Maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing a scuttle of coal for the day’s business.


3. Light is important to observe the patient’s condition. Therefore, each day fill kerosene lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks. Wash the windows once a week.

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4. The nurse’s notes are important in aiding the physician’s work. Make your pens carefully; you may whittle nibs to your individual taste.


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