Saturday, August 31, 2013

And We Think WE Have It Bad!

Flickr photo

There was a cartoon floating around Facebook this week about nurses working "only" three 12-hour shifts a week.  While, let's face it, that's not a bad deal, I'm definitely not saying that those three 12's are "only" - those of us doing them know that we don't use the word "only" to describe our work schedules. 

Nurses in the first nursing programs in this country were educated or "trained" (I hate that word) in hospital-based programs.  I guess I was "trained", too, as I went to a hospital-based program initially (me and Flo, way back when).

Anyway, those nursing students in the late 1800's, the early days of formal nursing programs, were treated pretty badly.  They were basically just free labor for the hospital.  They had a year of education and then worked for the hospital for a year before graduation.  They lived at the hospital, they had to be single, they worked 7 days a week and upwards of 70 to 90 hours a week.  Did I mention that they did this for no pay?

I love this quote:

"Hospitals were thus able to create a culture of nurse training that produced a
docile, loyal, dedicated, submissive, and cheap workforce."

from the book A History of Nursing Ideas, edited by Andrist, Nicholas, and Wolf.

I'm pretty sure the healthy work environment movement hadn't taken hold in the 1800's.  I do know some people who would be happy if we were still docile and submissive, though!

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