5 rules for nursing students…from the 1970s!

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Times they are a-changin’…or…er…are they? For those of you who are in nursing school and are aghast at some of the surprisingly dated rules you must abide by (white uniforms? Really??), take a look at this list of rules for nursing students from the 1970s as told by Scrubs Facebook fans who were there to live by them. Which one seems the most antiquated to you?


5 rules for nursing students…from the 1970s!

  1. I learned to smoke, drink and swear (when needed) as a nurse. Nurses used to follow doctors down the hall with the patients’ charts and an ashtray — to keep the ashes from the cigars off the floor. – Patty
  2. I graduated from a three-year school of nursing in 1973. We were still wearing white dresses. You had to wear a slip, white hose, white shoes and your cap. You could only wear a navy blue or black sweater. Your hair had to be up, you could only wear a plain wedding band, watch and stud earrings. – Nan
  3. We were expected to give everyone backrubs at bedtime. – Lee Ann
  4. I graduated in 1976. I remember mixing our own piggybacks in glass bottles (either 50cc or 100cc, D5W or 0.9 NACL), labeling them and hanging them ON TIME to my team of 28 patients on a busy med-surg floor in Chicago. The most people I was ever legally responsible for was 70! – Carol
  5. Back when I was first in training, we were told to not use gloves unless absolutely necessary as it might make the patient think we thought they were dirty. I’m not kidding! I was also on an “isolation” unit with no toilets or sinks in the rooms. There was a large communal/dorm bathroom, but we had to use commode chairs in every room. Really I am NOT joking! This was 1975, in Terre Haute, IN. – Evalea Siverly

What are some antiquated rules from your nursing school days?

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9 Responses to 5 rules for nursing students…from the 1970s!

  1. bdarst

    I graduated in 1979 and went to college associate degree instead of diploma or hospital programs. Things were starting to change but slowly. we did give everyone a back rub at bedtime and warm wash cloth to clean face and hands. we followed docs around but no ashtrays. I worked with residents in teaching hospital which was better than the country hospital I was trained at. learned early surgeons are a irritable bunch! We gave IM injections in glass syringes with large metal needles. disposables were starting!

  2. marcelle

    In 1984 when the MD’s came into the nurses station we were expected to give them our chair! And in some cases if the pt had no insurance the chart had a sticker on it in full view!

  3. kathyfran

    I graduated from a Diploma school in ’79. worked in OR for over 20 years. In ’79, the OR had 2 locker rooms. One for Doctors, and one for Nurses. The door of the (i guess) men’s locker room said “doctor’s” and the female room said “Nurse’s.
    One afternoon, I peaked in the docs locker room after they all had gone. it was huge, well appointed and quite a nice dressing room.
    Meanwhile, the female or Nurses locker room was a small, overcrowded space. we had about 25 nurses and only space for 8 -10 small lockers.
    the nurses ate lunch on a small bench.
    This all changed when we got a new surgical resident who was female and had big ones (not talking boobs)- balls. She proceeded to change in the doctor’s locker room to the horror of many of them! She said, “the door says.’doctors’ so I am not breaking any rules here!” and she continued to do this. she complained to the OR director that the “nurses” locker room was too small. They finally opened a new female locker room that had plenty of space, a closet, a shower, and lockers for all!

  4. Laobeau

    We weren’t expected to give up our chair for the physicians as students, but when I started working my co-workers jumped up and offered their chair AND got ashtrays for the docs. Graduated in 1978 from diploma school. When I started, lived in a dorm complete with housemother. I was under curfew as I was only 17 y/o. Spot checks on hem lines with the yardstick. Washing, folding and pinning hats to my head with a “spongie” so it would stay anchored. Running IV alcohol on the ortho ward (14 bed open ward) to prevent our patients from going into DT’s. Lots of traction used back then! Stock meds on the nursing units where the nurse calculated and mixed meds for injection or IV’s. Stainless steel bedpans, bedbaths, not just a wet cloth and back rubs. No hair could touch your collar, no artificial nails, no colored nail polish, white duty shoes (not athletic shoes), white hose and uniform.

  5. mer nickel

    The first job I had was on a med-surg unit with an army style nursing supervisor. If your shoes were not bright and white, she gave you shoe polish to polish your shoes before you got on here floor!

  6. unewmeb4

    Graduated from a 3 year diploma school in 1975. I loved giving backrubs at bedtime (they also received one after bathing in the AM). No Ativan or Ambien needed. Glass bottle IVs with Tapes stuck on the bottle to time them. Roller clamps only to regulate the rate. IM pain meds. Hate t say it, but I do miss the hair off the collar. LOVE the gloves, the IV pain meds, and IV pumps, as well as premixed abx, and electronic medication administration. Surely do NOT miss the white uniforms, white stockings and the caps that had to be starched, ironed, folded and pinned.

  7. moonmaid50

    Class of 71 here. We started all IV’s with needles and taped the extremity to a board. In our 60 bed hospital I was often the only RN on duty to cover 4 floors and ER.

  8. PEDSNURSE1234

    I was the first person in the hospital to make TPN solution – the doctor gave me all the ingredients in his orders and I used a D/W 5 bottle. I used sterile technique and as far as I know, no one got an infection.

  9. drb5

    I wasn’t a nurse in the ’70’s but I was a patient on a maternity unit in 1978.

    My son was premature by 5 weeks. I was sent home and he stayed in newborn nursery. There was no place to bring pumped milk, and no designated place for me to breast feed him when I visited. The nurse acted like breast feeding was for kooks and hippies who were just a bit unstable. If there was a vacant patient room I could bring him there, but only if I agreed not to touch the bed, only sit in the visitor chairs. On days when there were no vacant rooms I had to take him into the nurses’ locker room and sit on the benches to nurse him.

    Rooming in was unheard of.

    If I knew about leaving AMA I would have been out the door.