A day in the life of an 1887 nurse


Having a rough day at work? Allow us to introduce you to a typical day on the job for a nurse in 1887.
It may just make you feel that much better about all the charting you had to do (with your handy-dandy, store-bought pens) today.


1. Lucky you—the nurse who arrived before you has already brought in the coal to combat the morning chill.


2. Just kidding…of course she didn’t.

Maybe for five extra cents a day, but she has at least three years to go before making it rain with a such a hefty raise.


3. You receive your assignments for the day at precisely 7:02 a.m.

Not great, not terrible—49 patients in all.


4. Needless to say, you’re going to have to dive in right away. But first, you have writing utensils to whittle.


5. The same nurse who evaded coal duty is still fine-tuning her whittling (rookie!). Of course, she has the nerve to ask you for one of your pencils.

That’s when you notice that her hair is looking suspiciously well-styled today. You’ve heard rumors that she frequents the beauty shop, but this blatant show of vanity is unusually bold.


6. You’re still making your rounds (36 to go!) when the doctor on duty requests your help. You’re not really sure what you’re in for, seeing as he is all at once the local physician, surgeon, gynecologist, obstetrician and pediatrician.

But he was trained as a dentist.

The saw is your first clue.


7. After a quick thank you to the medical gods for this new thing called anesthesia, you help the physician set up outside, where the lighting is better.


8. Fortunately, the surgery went well(ish).

As in, the patient is still breathing, and likely to receive a used, wooden prosthetic that’s only a few inches too short.

Which is sort of shocking, seeing as the surgeon confessed mid-removal that it was his first attempt.


9. Still, you’re pretty behind, thanks to that surprise amputation.

Cleaning the chimney will simply have to wait. Maybe you’ll manage to trim a wick or two.


10. Tourniquets, abscesses, dysentery…it’s all in a day’s work for you and your team. Luckily, the director has noticed all your hard work, which means you have the night off for courting purposes.


11. So it’s time to get all dolled up for the nearest alcohol-free, music-free, judgment-free hangout spot for unwed nurses.


12. Good thing tomorrow is the Sabbath, which means you’ll be off from noon to 2 p.m. (At long last, your “weekend” is finally here!)


Inspired by A list of rules for nurses from 1887

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