Author Topic: Nursing Hierarchy  (Read 7444 times)


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Nursing Hierarchy
« on: November 02, 2007, 09:47:42 AM »
 Just thinking,having read the introduction page again,where it mentions opening up the coffee rooms or canteens, about my own experiences.I started my training in 1975 by which time we as students were able to share a table in the canteen with trained staff in my hospital.Sisters however always had separate tables with waitress service.The rules of nursing heirarchy were such that 1st years could address 2nd years who could address 3rd years who might address the trained nurses but rarely if ever Sister.When night sister came onto a ward all the staff would stand up until given permission to sit again,& cardigans or cloaks would be removed(despite the sub-arctic temperatures on many Nightingale wards)  I was addressed by Sister as nurse Maleczek and christian names were used only out of earshot amonst ourselves.I'm not sure when it all changed ,I suppose like most things it was a subtle attitude shift but when people drift into my training sessions  today 15 minutes late chewing gum,I can't help finding was it that bad??


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Re: Nursing Hierarchy
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2007, 02:53:23 PM »
Yes I had similar experiences in the 70's. I'd worked in a few other jobs before coming into nursing so all the cap-doffing & 'know your place' attitude seemed really rather quaint. In many ways the NHS always was and to a lesser degree still is, slightly unworldly. I've left nursing now but still work with NHS staff as a contractor. There's no doubt that some things things have changed for the better but I really regret how the power & influence that nursing had has been lost somehow in the educational & organisational reforms of the '90s. I never wanted to sound like a 'grumpy old nurse' but here I am doing just that.


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Re: Nursing Hierarchy
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2007, 04:13:05 PM »
I agree with you both. I started in 1973 and there was complete hierarchy system in place. Students spoke to SEN's who spoke to SN's who spoke to Sister. NEVER did Sister speak to you and if she did, it was either for final end of placement report OR to be told off. Also everyone above SN's level; were 'Miss' as married women always either left service OR went back to Sn level. This seemed to change around early 1980's. Like Peter says, Sisters went to break separately from rest of us and had their own tables.
Also as I was first male nurse to undertake general nursing in Craigavon Hospital, (indeed the local paper wrote an article about me at the time) I will admit that several times many asked why I wasn't doing Psychiatric nursing as I should have. Several older Sisters refused to allow me down female side of ward and indeed it wasn't until my second year that I was involved in nursing both sexes (such was their attitude). However, several males entered in intakes after me and within a year or so with more of us about attitudes started to change.
I quite liked being called Nurse Wilkinson and indeed think this is a pactice that should return. First name terms gaves an over familarily; but everyone does it now.
One more thing, first and second year student nurses job EVERY weekend, was to clear out each cupboard in clinical room; clean each side and repack them ensuring that CSSD packs were in date and ones at front were to be used first. Also to clean the sluice room and every bedpan and urinal etc (this was before machines came in). While it was part of job, it did instill importance of cleanliness and washing hands etc. Wish this was allowed today but sadly it is not.
Finally, one more reflection, matron came round every morning and once I was told to leave ward and not return until I had a haircut as hair must be off the collar (my hair just touched collar, but this not allowed).
I certainly do NOT remember as many infections as there are now.


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Re: Nursing Hierarchy
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2007, 04:35:59 PM »
I find this very interesting AND - very surprising. I was recently thinking about how "accessable" the hierarchy was in the "good old days". You could have a chat with the PNO or DNO. And as for "bowing" to the Sisters etc. I think Sister Bull would have wet herself laughing. Perhaps it is a local thing. I never felt particularly "inferior".
Maybe I was just lucky and my indomitable charm won over!?
(Ah hem. I very much doubt that somehow)


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