Old photograph of hospital with caption that reads, '100 Year Old Nursing Practices You Won't Believe!'

100+ Year Old Nursing Practices You Won't Believe!

The next time you start your nursing shift, be glad you're not clocking in back in 1887 when some wild rules governed nursing practice standards. By that time, the Civil War had already helped give rise to the practice of nursing in hospitals instead of in people's homes. It also catapulted nursing into a credentialed profession, helping to change its standing from a somewhat lowly post to a career that's honored and respected. But that respect didn't come easily. Nursing practice standards have changed enormously over the past century, as noted by a rundown in Scrubs magazine.

Since Colorado Christian University is celebrating its 100-year anniversary, it's an ideal time to take a look back at just how far the nursing profession has come.

Nursing Practice Standards 1887

Here are some of the regulations you'd be expected to follow as part of your job.

Your Duties

Each nurse oversaw the care of 50 patients, and that wasn't all. You were expected to keep the place clean, with regular sweeping, mopping, and dusting as part of your duties. You'd have to sweep and mop your ward, along with the patients' furniture and windowsills. Maintaining consistent heating and light was also on the list, with additional duties including retrieving a daily scuttle of coal as well as filling, cleaning, and trimming the wicks of kerosene lamps.

Your Hours

Daily shifts ran from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., during which time you were expected to be in your ward. You did, however, get a break on Sundays. You were allowed to have two hours off between noon and 2 p.m. If you were a graduate nurse in good standing with the director of nurses, you could be granted one evening off per week "for courting purposes," two evenings off if you were a regular church-goer.

Your Reputation

What you did with your time off was also important. Nurses caught smoking, drinking any type of liquor, hanging out at dance halls, or (gasp!) getting their hair done "will give the director of nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions, and integrity," Scrubs says.

Your Retirement Funds

Nursing practice standards dictated you set aside a "goodly sum" of your regular paycheck so you didn't "become a burden" once you got older and could no longer work. The suggested savings was 50 percent of your check or saving $15 from your $30 monthly payments.

Your Perks

If you dutifully completed all your tasks while serving your patients and doctors without any errors or breach of loyalty over a period of five years, you did get a reward. Hospital admins would increase your pay by 5 cents per day. At that rate, you could be saving $15 per month in no time!

Yes, indeed, nursing practice standards have come a very long way. And you can advance your own nursing career even further at CCU CAGS. Colorado Christian University has courses specifically designed for adults who are currently working as nurses and want to take the next step in their careers – without having to wait another 100 years.


Colorado Christian University does not guarantee any job placement as a result of earning this or any other degrees offered by the university.

Find out what options you have for continuing your education and learning more about a future career in this exciting field!

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