Changes in Nursing

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21 February 2016

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Nursing Passed Down Through the Generations

Everyone has probably noticed all of the changes in technology in the last fifty years. Now there are cell phones, tablets, home computers, and so much more. All of these devices are often used every day by all kinds of people in all different professions. People use cell phones to call their bosses and other people around the world for business. Some people use computers all day every day for bookkeeping, journaling and various other jobs. Many people in the medical field use computers, cellphones, and so many other kinds of technology every day, especially nurses. Technology is not the only advancement or change in nursing, there has also been changes in medications, uniforms, racial and gender roles, schooling, and other areas. Nurses can take better care of their patients due to the advancements of medicine and technology in the last fifty years. New machines and computers are always invented that help nurses do their job better. According to Charlene Boyle, a retired nurse, in her interview stated while she worked they had to write all of the patients’ information down and papers and information got lost or accidentally thrown away. In her last few years working the hospitals and doctor’s offices started to get computers in all the hospitals and she said it was a huge change. She said that the computers helped keep the information more organized and easier to find (Boyle Interview). In the article by Julie Blanche called Nursing 50 Years Back and Today: How the Nursing Field Has Changed over the Last 50 Years, she says, “Nurses also benefited from wireless technology, as they were able to bring their laptop computers into the patient rooms so they could perform other functions, such as admissions work, while keeping an eye on the patients” (Blanche 2). Technology did not only help nurses keep track of patient information, machines and other devices were created to help nurses better treat patients with health issues. Technology helps nurses perform jobs faster and with fewer errors.

Fifty years ago doctors and nurses started using the ultrasound machines on pregnant women. Now it is typical for all women to get an ultrasound. According to The History of Insulin Pumps by Elliot Bethke, insulin pumps were invented in 1963 and they were so big it was basically a backpack diabetics had to wear around. Now they are small and most people wouldn’t even notice it if someone was wearing one (Bethke 1). According to Julie Blanche in Nursing 50 Years Back and Today: How the Nursing Field Has Changed over the Last 50 Years, hospitals made an effort to make it easier for nurses to do their jobs well. The hospitals paid for new bedside technology, including an automated medication-administration system and wireless computers. The medication-administration check requires bar codes for medication, nurses and patients, ensuring that nurses will make fewer errors. With a simple scan, nurses learn if the medication matches the patient and the physician’s order (Blanche 1). The advancements in technology helps nurses to keep track of patients’ information as well as allowing them to treat the patients in more effective ways. In order to learn about all of the changing technology, the schooling that nurses were required to take was also changed. There has also been many changes in schooling for a nurse. Charlene Boyle, a retired nurse, stated that by her senior year she was running the floor along with the other seniors in her class. She also said “I had to go to school for three years with one month off a year. Currently to be a Registered Nurse or RN, you have to go to school for four years with your summers off” (Boyle Interview). In A History of American Nursing: Trends and Eras by Deborah Judd, Kathleen Sitzman, and Megan Davis state until the 1960s, most nurses were diploma nurses, nurses who only had their high school diploma, and their education was provided by a hospital or hospital school, not a college or university. Judd, Sitzman, and Davis also state “Nursing has debated two questions related to education for almost 50 years.

First, what should the entry level of education be for practice as a registered nurse – associate or baccalaureate? Secondly, should all nurses be required to participate in continuing education as a part of active or inactive practice?” (Judd, Davis, and Sitzman 187). The book by Davis, Judd, and Sitzman included a survey asking nurses what level of education they have received. According to the survey, 34% of the nurses interviewed have received their associate’s degree, 31% have their baccalaureates degree, 10% have earned their master’s degree or PhD, 16 % have their associate’s degree and are working towards their baccalaureates degree, and 3% are diploma nurses (Judd, Davis, and Sitzman 190). Just as schooling and technology has been improved so have the uniforms that nurses are required to wear. When someone says the word nurse most people invision a woman in a white suit with a red cross on her hat, but that is not what modern day nurses wear. Uniform is another major change in the last 50 years. According to Julie Blanche in Nursing 50 Years Back and Today: How the Nursing Field Has Changed over the Last 50 Years, the nurse’s uniforms 50 years ago were the typical white, starch outfits. “In the 1960s, nurses still wore dresses and stocking as their uniforms… The uniforms also take a turn in the direction of more fashionable than in the past. Some of the more modern touches include belts and feminine cuffs. Don’t forget the hat that was an essential part of the nurse’s uniform” (Blanche 1). Blanche also explained the modern-day uniforms, “During the 1990s and today, nursing dresses have been replaced with much more user friendly scrub suits. Scrub suits can be found in a wide variety of colors and styles. Some hospitals have specific scrub suit colors for different types of hospital staff and others allow nurses and other staff to choose colors and styles that appeal to them.” (Blanche 1). Since the uniform has changed that also means that the places where nurses work must have also evolved. The hospitals, doctor’s offices and wherever else a nurse might work were all changing. The hospitals and offices were getting new technology and better prepared nurses.

Along with better prepared nurses comes a higher pay and more complex jobs for the nurses to complete. Charlene Boyle, a retired nurse, stated in her interview that when she was a nurse, the job was definitely a lot simpler than it is now. Now it is more complex. She also talked about her average pay as a nurse. She started out getting $400 to $500 a month but by the time she retired she was getting $40 an hour (Boyle Interview). According to TheRichest website by TheRichest an average wage for a nurse today is about $28 an hour (TheRichest 1). The hours that nurses work have stayed the same. Charlene Boyle continued “I worked eight hour shifts. Sometimes took a day shift from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or night shift from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. This is what made me start drinking coffee” (Boyle Interview). Changes in technology, schooling, uniforms, hours, and pay are not the only changes in nursing in the last fifty years, there have also been changes in gender and race. The role of a nurse fifty years ago was always a woman’s job. Normally men were the doctors. Charlene Boyle, in her interview recalled “I had thirty-three people in my class. All of them were women and only one of them was Black all the rest of us were Caucasian” (Boyle). Fifty years ago the Civil Rights Movement was in its final years and some people were still against African-Americans, which is why it was very uncommon for an African-American to be a nurse. In modern times, men and African Americans are both nurses. Although it is still fairly uncommon to see a male nurse. The change in gender and race are big social changes. There have also been changes in where the role of nurses takes place. According to Judd, Sitzman, and Davis in A History of American Nursing: Trends and Eras nearly a century ago people cared for their family at home. From the beginning of the 20th century until now, hospitals have become part of everyday life. Hospitals have become places where mothers bear their children, medical specialties achieve perfection, and new inventions were proved. It is also a place where nurses care for those who need to be cured as well as those who need relief from pain or suffering (Judd, Davis, and Sitzman 192).

Before there were hospitals, mothers took the role of nurses. They took care of their children as well as they could with homemade remedies and other medical tips they had learned from their mothers. Now there are hospitals and doctor offices where people go in regularly for check-ups, illness, and injuries. We even have an emergency room where people in urgent need of medical attention go for help. Recently they have also come out with Quick Care offices, most are in Hy-Vee’s and patients can run in and it only takes about ten to twenty minutes for the doctors to diagnose the patient’s sickness. Then they prescribe medicine for the patients that they can fill right at the store’s pharmacy. It makes going to the doctor a lot faster and cheaper. The prices for a doctor’s visit have also changed. According to Charlene Boyle, a retired nurse, in her interview she said that in the 1960’s is cost about $5 to go to the doctor and today it can cost anywhere from $100 to $200 for one visit. It seems ridiculous (Boyle). Hospitals have made it easier for people to get treated for diseases and made it easier on parents to keep their children healthy. Although the prices for doctor’s visits went up, now there is insurance. Insurance helps people pay for visits to the hospital and to doctor’s offices. With all the changes in technology and medicine over the last fifty years, nurses have definitely been able to take better care of patients. The nurses are more prepared and they have more advanced technology to help their patients. Nursing is not the only branch in the medical field that has made advancements. Many more medical careers have made advancements. The medical field as a whole has improved and has become part of everyday life.

Works Cited

Bethke, Elliot. “The History of Insulin Pumps.” – BIOE 414 Instrumentation Projects. The Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois, College of Engineering, 13 Dec. 2011. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. Blanche, Julie. “Nursing 50 Years Back and Today: How the Nursing Field Has Changed Over the Last 50 Years.” HeatheCareers Network. HealtheCareers, 2 Nov. 2010. Web. 15 Sept. 2013 Boyle, Charlene. Life as a Nurse. Telephone interview. 28 Sept. 2013. Judd, Deborah M., Kathleen Sitzman, and Megan Davis. A History of American Nursing: Trends and Eras. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2010. Print. TheRichest. “Registered Nurse Salary – How Much Does Registered Nurses Make?” Celebrity Net worth Richest People in the World Registered Nurse Salary How Much Does Registered Nurses Make Comments. Google+, 3 June 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.

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StudyScroll. (2016). Changes in Nursing [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 25 March, 2023]

"Changes in Nursing" StudyScroll, Feb 21, 2016. Accessed Mar 25, 2023.

"Changes in Nursing" StudyScroll, Feb 21, 2016.

"Changes in Nursing" StudyScroll, 21-Feb-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 25-Mar-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Changes in Nursing. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 25-Mar-2023]

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