The 1960's and 1970's greatly changed the direction of nursing. Nursing was thought of as a female profession... that only women could have the compassion and nurturing required to deliver nursing care. At the time there were only a small number of men who entered nursing. As women, we wanted equality in the workplace. No longer did we want to stand in respect to the doctors (who at the time were mostly men) and give them our chair when in fact it was the first we had sat down ALL day to do our charting. It was not that we didn't respect them but we wanted to work as a team. We did not want to be seen as hand maidens with no voice in the care of our patients. Feminism and women's lib was in the news and sparked a revolution. Gradually we took off our caps and changed our uniform to colors and then to scrubs as this was much more practical as we crawled on the floor to mark the drainage in chest tubes and it made the physical demands of our job easier.
Our skill levels were changing. We learned to do physical assessments that previously had been done by the physicians (hard to believe in today's world). We learned to insert IV's, insert nasogastric tubes, and became more assertive in voicing our concerns to the physicians. And our voices were being heard! We fought for a director of nurses who would indeed stand up for the nurses and support us as we sought more independence. I was fortunate enough to have a director who would not hesitate to speak loud and clear if a doctor spoke down to a nurse. She was pro-nurse and pro-patient and would listen to all sides before making a judgement. She stood for high standards and encouraged teamwork of all medical professionals.
Nurses today cannot believe how different it was back then. We live in a different world. Technology is rapidly changing and men are finding great satisfaction in entering the nursing profession and yes, they work in all specialties. There is greater comraderie between physicians and nurses. The doctors respect and rely on our assessments as their practices become busier. It is the nurse who spends time at the bedside and it is the nurse who carries out all the orders. We must work in tandem to deliver the care our patients so desperately deserve. No one can do it alone.