Silly Rules For Nurses From 1887


Nurses have been a crucial part of the healthcare world dating back to the 1600s. In 1887, their job duties extended far beyond patient care to long list of rules!

A Long History

Many may think medical workers have a long list of rules and guidelines to follow in today’s regulated healthcare system, however this list of nine rules from more than a century ago are extremely exasperating. This list on nine “rules” expands far beyond medical duties, but also includes many matriarchal duties from the times.

Rules To Live By

This list was published in a magazine of Cleveland Lutheran Hospital. Back in these times. the male doctors couldn’t be bothered with such petty details, so the female nurses stepped up to take on much more! It almost seems like a list of rules from a father given to his daughters rather than guidelines set by a company.


Savings Account… No Questions!

Rule 1: Each nurse should lay aside from each payday a goodly sum of her earning for her benefits during her declining years, so that she will not become a burden. For example, if you earn $30 a month, you should set aside $15.

Light It Up

Rule 2: Light is important to observe the patient’s condition. Therefore, each day fill kerosene lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks.


The Lord’s Day

Rule 3: Each nurse on day duty will report every day at 7 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m., except on the Sabbath, on which she will be off from noon to 2 p.m.


Don’t Forget To Clean… and Dust… and Sweep

Rule 4: Daily sweep and mop the floors of your ward, dust the patience’s furniture and window sills.


Hard Work Doesn’t Pay Off Quick Enough

Rule 5: The nurse who performs her labors and serves her patients and doctors faithfully and without fault for a period of five years will be give an increase by the hospital administration of five cents per day.


Perfect Penmanship Required

Rule 6: The nurse’s notes are important in aiding your physician’s work. Make your pens carefully; you may whittle nibs to your individual taste.


Act Like A Proper Lady, Always

Rule 7: Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty shop, or frequents dance halls will give the director of nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions and integrity.



Haul The Coal – Nursing 101

Rule 8: Maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing in a scuttle of coal for the day’s business.


Find A Husband or Go To Church

Rule 9: Graduate nurses in good standing with the director of nurses will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if you regularly go to church.

A Glimpse Of The Past

My how times have changed… Nursing has come a long way since 1887! Respect came slowly to the profession, but people know the hard work nurses put in. Today, the job focuses on patient care, rather than cleaning, reputation and church attendance. Nurses provide care both physical and emotional to their patience and can make a lasting impression on the lives they help to save.


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