Updated 06 July 2018

Nursing in earlier times: What was it like?

There's an entire generation between these two nurses who speak of their different experiences. What has changed over the decades?

The world has changed, and technology has led to major improvements in all industries and our lives as a whole, but what are the most prominent changes the nursing fraternity has seen over the years?

These two women – Ethel, 88, and Grace, 20 – have stories about the same industry, but with experiences on complete opposite sides of the spectrum.

Today nurses play an essential part in medicine and healthcare, with the whole industry relying on them for their expertise, opinions and hard work.

Faster diagnosis

Ethel spoke about her experience with doctors back then and how nurses were barely noticed or acknowledged. Doctors rarely asked for a nurse's opinion, and those who were asked usually held a more senior position.

When it comes to technology, today's nurses are fortunate in that medical and health professionals, with the help of modern equipment, are able to detect and diagnose diseases and conditions much faster than 40 years ago.

Ethel added that there used to be no ultrasound or other modern equipment that we see in hospitals today – her equipment consisted of a notebook, a pen and a steel ruler.