In 2018, life still has a lot of room for improvement. People are often treated unfairly. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer. And women and minorities continue to report that they are paid less and treated with disrespect compared to others. Things could still improve. But we cannot discount how much progress has occurred over the last century or so.
For example, back in the 1880s, female nurses were forced to follow the strangest rules. In today’s society, they sound bizarre. And if you are a nurse or know someone who is a nurse, you know how much he or she does while on the job. They’re some of the hardest working people in the industry. They’re often the ones saving lives. But back in 1887, the hospital made it tough for the nurses to do their jobs.
Cleveland Lutheran Hospital published its list of rules from 1887 that they would give to prospective nurses during the hiring process. And as you’re about to see, it is quite bizarre compared to modern day standards.
Maintain the ward’s temperature with coal.
Cleveland Lutheran Hospital forced the nurse to managed the “scuttle of coal,” which was the massive bucket of iron filled with coal. No wonder life expectancy was much lower in the late 1800s. Hospitals want their nurses to work with the coal. And they were still expected to maintain a white uniform.
Nurses were expected to be maids.
Every day the Cleveland Lutheran Hospital expects nurses to sweep and mop the floors of their wards. They also had to dust the patients’ person belongings. This task was pushed onto the nurse in addition to her duty of saving the patient’s life and tending to her care.
Nurses work from 7 am to 8 pm, except for Sabbath when they get two hours off.
When nurses are on duty, they were forced to work thirteen-hour days. On Sabbath, they got four hours off from 12 pm to 2 pm to pray. Nurses must have looked forward to working the Sabbath back then.
Make their pens.
Instead of giving nurses pens, the hospital expected them to “whittle” their own to their individual taste. The hospital thought they were progressive with this rule.
Graduate nurses in good standing were granted a night or two off each week for “courting purposes.”
Back in 1887, a woman was still expected to marry. Her career was pretty much a placeholder until she married. If the graduate nurse was in good standing with the director of nursing, she could take an evening off each week to court. If she went to church, she got two nights off.
Each nurse must set aside a “goodly sum” of her income for retirement.
To prevent a nurse from becoming a burden when she was old, she was expected to put aside a goodly sum to take care of herself when she was older.
No smoking, drinking, visiting of beauty salons or dancing.
If a nurse does any of these, her job would be on the line.
Fill all lamps with oil.
Because light was vital to see the patients, the midwestern hospital forced its nursing to fill all bedside lamps with kerosene, clean its chimneys and trim wicks. The nurses also had to wash windows every week.
Get a raise every five years.
If a nurse does a good job for five years straight, she earned a raise of five pennies per day.
Which one of these rules surprised you the most?