Retro Nursing

what it's like to be a nurse

What It’s Like to Be a Nurse

This book looks familiar. I think we featured it, but I can’t find it in our archives. It is a career book that is way past its prime. The narrative follows three nursing students through their program to graduation.

As a youth career book, this isn’t going to help anyone learn about modern nursing. Uniforms and caps turned into scrubs. I didn’t see a single pair of gloves on any of the staff. Technology and other changes make this book interesting, but obsolete. Keep it in archive, not in a current collection.


nursing students anatomy class nursing uniforms bedpans nursing graduation


  1. Hello Nurse! (Joking). Actually this was interesting…they used a star of David (maybe accidently?) back in the day as the symbol of a registered nurse? (Also I do have to point at that for 1972, they did include a black one, so…).

  2. As someone who was born in 1974, I think I still remember when nurses dressed like that. Very cute, but nowhere near as practical as scrubs. And I wouldn’t feel cute at all anyway if I had to do things like clean bedpans or give someone an enema. *shivers*

  3. Definitely from a bygone time in nursing! I graduated from nursing school in 2000 and my experience is already far removed from today’s nursing students. I find it fascinating from a historical/archival position, but please don’t let career books languish in circulation this long. If anyone wanted to go to the same school they would be hard pressed since it closed in 1981.

  4. My mom became a nurse in the 70’s and so I think she’d get a kick out of this book. I went to nursing school in the last decade and things have definitely changed. Back in the day nurses only liked to wear gloves when they were handling feces, it was perfectly fine to touch blood. Now you wear gloves for everything.

  5. Michael Reese Hospital was torn down about 20 years ago. That’s where the latest Mayor Daley wanted to build the village for the Olympics that we never hosted.

    1. “Be” is part of the verb in this phrase, so it is correctly capitalized if anything is. But “to” is also part of the verb and therefore it should be capitalized, too. Articles are never capitalized.

  6. The previous posting had a comment (from a nurse?) that their practice/hospital/clinic had stopped using actual sphygmomanometers because of the huge Hg column.

  7. My mom (a former nurse) really detests the switch to scrubs outside the OR, and losing the ceremony of capping at the end of nursing school (that was around 1978 for her). Though she was definitely of the pants-uniform sort, and told tales of a nursing instructor who demonstrated why mini-skirt uniforms were a bad idea by jumping onto a gurney and resuscitating a dummy with her backside to the class. ;p

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