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Baby boomer nurses: Are we the fittest to survive?

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It’s remarkable, when one reflects back, that we baby boomer nurses actually lived to adulthood! And everyone knows we’re still waiting for that mass exodus when they’ll all retire, creating that nursing shortage we keep hearing about. For the time being, it seems baby boomer nurses just keep going and going!

Just for fun (and shock value!), here’s a list of practices that were the norm when we were children.

1. Baby boomers were born to mothers who may have taken hormones to prevent miscarriages, who smoked and drank wine with dinner, who ate canned tuna and blue cheese dressing “for two” and didn’t get tested for diabetes. They took aspirin for headaches and had “twilight sleep” for childbirth (a most barbaric thing to witness!). They were expected to stay in bed for at least three weeks after giving birth.

2. C-sections were rare and for emergencies only. Premature babies had very little chance at survival as there was no neonatal therapy back then. JFK’s last son died as a result, as did my own brother. However, the Rh Factor problem was finally identified and a vaccine developed in the mid-1960s. Progress!

3. Many of us were bottle fed because the belief that science could make anything better than Mother Nature prevailed; breastfeeding was not popular because it might “ruin one’s figure.”

4. Glass bottles with rubber nipples and black plastic rings were boiled after being washed to “sterilize” them before the baby touched them.

5. We slept on our bellies in cribs adorned with brightly colored paints, often lead-based.

6. Our cloth diapers were bleached with Clorox every week and delivered by a diaper service. Those who lived outside the city limits did their own laundry and hung clothes out on a line to dry in the sunshine.

7. There were no “childproof” caps on medicine bottles or baby locks on cabinets or doors. No child seats, airbags, or even seat belts in cars. A whole bunch of us considered a ride in the back of a pickup truck the norm for going to the river for the day.

8. We ate white bread, bacon, real mayonnaise and drank Kool-Aid sweetened with white sugar with our bologna sandwiches. A Coca-Cola from the “filling station” with peanuts poured into it was a special treat. Often Daddy would bring home a Hershey bar which was shared with the family dog.

And we were NOT overweight!

Why? Because we spent our free time outside playing! We had our chores to do, but after they were finished the day was ours–so long as we were home by suppertime. TV was something the family watched TOGETHER between supper and bedtime. The shows back then were ALL “prime-time” because that was the only time they were on the air!

So what do you think nurses? Is the typical American family healthier now than the baby boomer generation in their youth? Or are we, ironically, a special breed?

Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts (Oliver Wendell Holmes).

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Nurse Rene

Nurse Rene has been an RN since 1978; CCRN since 1989 and attained a BSN in 2010. She has worked in virtually every specialty from Neonatology to Neurosurgery and is a Member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society with a particular interest in helping students and new grads develop to their full potential. She's been married for 33 years and has a keen interest in history and in current issues as nursing continues to develop as a Real Profession. When not spoiling the grandchildren, she enjoys sewing, cooking, kayaking, camping and travel. She likes all music which does not hurt her ears, watching NCIS, Leverage, Top Gear and Criminal Minds and reads books written by Clive Cussler, Miss Manners, Erma Bombeck and Tom Clancy. She enjoys collecting Quotations for use in her writings.
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