We are still there, and sister is at the beach! While she’s been gone, I’ve had full run of the house, and full parent duty. Last week, my Dad was in the hospital and I stayed there to help both my mom and him if they needed it. Hospitals are a very interesting place. When I was a child, I had a tonsillectomy (which was a disaster in my book) and found out that experiences we have, as children will carry into our adult life. Back then, in the dark ages, nurses wore white starched hats and dresses accessorized with white hose and shoes. There were no cartoon characters on the wall and trendy-dressing nurses; there were professionally trained ladies who took no prisoners. Prior to my little surgery, I was wrapped in a sheet like a mummy and transported to the operating room. Because of my pre-surgery burrito’d state, I am to this day still terribly claustrophobic.
Dad’s nurses had bright colored scrub suits and comfortable shoes. They were so happy to be there helping people. They told us all about their families, great restaurants we had missed, and their careers as nurses. It was a great experience being around happy people who loved serving others. So what happened to the white starched nurses caps? I have often wondered how the change came about. I loved seeing the various shapes and curves each nurse had depending on the school she attended. Male nurses are lucky enough to wear nothing on their heads, but the ladies had to have the cap. I did a little research.
Here is what I found:
The nurse’s cap originated from a group of women in the early Christian era, called “deaconesses.” Deaconesses are now recognized as religious order nuns. These women were distinguished from other women during this time by white coverings worn on their heads. This particular head covering was worn to show that this group of women worked in the service of caring for the sick. Originally, this head covering was more of a veil, but it later evolved into a white cap during the Victorian era. It was during this era that proper women were required to keep their heads covered. The cap worn was hood-shaped with a ruffle around the face and tied under the chin, similar to cleaning ladies of that day. Long hair was fashionable during the Victorian era, so the cap kept the nurse’s hair up and out of her face, as well as keeping it from becoming soiled.
Florence Nightingale originally used the nursing cap in the 1800s. Different styles of caps were used to depict the seniority of the nurse, the frillier and longer, the more senior the nurse.
The nursing cap is a nearly universally recognized symbol of nursing. It allows patients to quickly identify a nurse in the hospital from other members of the health team.
Around 1874, the Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City adopted a special nursing cap as a way to identify nurses who had graduated from Bellevue. The Bellevue cap covered the entire head except the ears, and can be compared to a current ski hat, although it was made out of white linen and had fringe around the bottom. As the number of nursing schools increased, so did the need for unique caps. Each nursing school decided to design their own style of nurse’s cap. Some became very elaborate and some were even different shapes. Because each school had their own cap, it became very easy to determine which school the nurse had graduated from.
In a global perspective, the nurses’ cap continues to be widely used. However, the use of the nurses’ cap had begun to slowly decline in Western Europe and Northern America by the mid-1970s. The use of nurses’ caps in the medical facilities of the United States all but disappeared by the late 1980s with the near universal adoption of “scrubs.” In countries where the nursing cap is no longer required as a part of a nurse’s uniform, it still holds the same significance that it did during the time of Florence Nightingale. The nursing cap symbolizes the goal of nurse, which is to provide “service to those in need.” Furthermore, the cap is a sign of the industry’s ageless values of dedication, honesty, wisdom, and faith.
Today, I salute the nurses who serve all of us faithfully. You work endless hours, walking up and down the halls of medical facilities, tending to the needs of patients and their families. I admire your commitment to education and the ever changing world of medicine. You look into the hearts of those around you and realize that you are a voice of knowledge, calm, and hope in an uncertain world. Service is your calling and extending your hands to help people is your mission. Thank you from all of us who have benefited from your love and attention.