Extract from a Probationer's Diary
Orange Training School for Nurses

More from this "diary":
Probie | Night Duty | Home Life

An operating room circa 1910

Every nurse in our School has from four to six weeks' training in operating room work alone. During this time she has to make up and keep on hand thousands of sponges, wipes, bandages, and dressing of all kinds, and attend to the sterilization of the same.

She prepares all the water used by boiling and filtering it three times and then bottling it; she sterilizes sutures and ligatures; keeps the instruments bright and clean; is responsible for the perfect cleanliness of the operating-room, which is wiped up with disinfecting solutions daily; she frequently paints shelves, cupboards, tables stools, and everything paintable. She is also responsible for the proper conditions of the accident and examining-rooms, and in answer to her bell must attend to all accident cases; that is, she cleanses the wounds and waits on the doctor. Briefly, this is the daily routine, and in addition, of course, are the operations. Let me recall one hot day in August.

An appendectomy was arranged for 11 am and while preparing my room this a case was brought into the accident-room requiring immediate operation. This meant rapid preparations while the staff were summoned, who, on their arrival, operated at once. The appendectomy was necessarily delayed for nearly an hour, and on account of its many complications was a long and tedious operation, so it was 3 o'clock before any of us went to dinner, and no one knows better than a nurses how hungry an operation makes one. A hurried meal, and then back to the hospital to clean room and instruments, and pack pails and carriers for the sterilizer. We were nearly through with this when the ambulance gong was heard. On going down to the accident-room, we found a case of stabbing awaiting us; and while we were working over this patent, the ambulance again made us a call, and the other party to the affray was brought in. Wordy hostilities commenced in a language which, fortunately, we did not understand. After our interesting patients were dispatched to the ward, with a police officer in charge, we went to supper and, as we supposed, to rest after a hard day; but one of the lessons a nurse has to learn is how to do without rest when she feels she needs it most, and when that never-to be-mistaken sound, the ambulance gong, was heard. A shooting case this time, and a very bad one. The staff was sent for, and in the meantime we prepare the room for a capital operation, which takes place at 10:30. After it was over an the room made ready for the next case (which, for aught we knew might be in an hour or two), we refreshed ourselves on kumyss, and at 1:30 am betook ourselves to bed.

Citation from:
(1899). Some account of the Orange Training School for Nurses, Orange, NJ: Orange Memorial Hospital.

This "diary " must be read with the understanding that the hospital published this booklet as public relations.

Back to Top