A friend of mine recently had the sad occasion to clean out his mother's house after her death. His mother had been a nurse who'd proudly practiced for many years. Amidst treasured items like her navy blue cape and nurse's cap, he came across a nursing publication from 1952. Knowing my love of nursing history, he lent it to me to peruse.
The advertisements gave me a chuckle—there seemed to be an inordinate focus on white shoe polish, feminine hygiene products, and breath fresheners as if they were the foundation to success. The clinical articles provided insight into that era's state of the art. But it was the Letters to the Editor column that really gave me pause. Reading it made me feel as if I'd entered a strange time warp. If references to events in 1952 were deleted, the sentiments shared by the nurse readers from that era would be essentially the same ones we receive today at Nursing2014.
In the first letter, a nurse objected to requiring college degrees for all nurses, arguing that higher education could pose barriers to “girls” who wished to enter the profession. The next letter extolled the value of nursing scholarships as a strategy to ease the nursing shortage, especially in rural areas of the country. Another writer warned of the grave societal consequences of not having enough nurses to meet the eventual demand. She advocated for changing the image of nursing to make the profession more attractive to men. The last writer expressed her distress about the lack of courteous behavior that she's encountered during interactions with certain hospital personnel, especially those involving patients and their family members.
So, the times have indeed changed...but keep in mind that we're still arguing about basic entry into practice criteria, strategies to address an impending nursing shortage, and rudeness exhibited by colleagues and coworkers.
Frankly, I'm worried that 62 years have passed and the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. Sure, we've made great strides as a profession, but there's been little progress in some very fundamental areas. Let's hope that 62 years from now, a nursing editor-in-chief of the future browsing through an issue of Nursing2014 won't feel compelled to draw a similar conclusion.
Until next time—
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2014 Vice President: Emergency & Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.