Welcome to the musings of a new nurse.
2020 was my graduate year of nursing and the year of more formal support to transition from student to nurse. I was lucky to have such a year, even if the COVID-19 pandemic meant it did not go as I had pictured it.
I enjoy medical and nursing history and pictures of nursing uniform changes from the past resonate in my mind. Over time we’ve had dresses, capes and caps of varying lengths and these days we wear scrubs.
However, last year saw a number of major changes to the nursing uniform and an increase in the personal protective equipment (PPE) we wear at work. Today, I would like to ponder how these very visual changes will be remembered and documented by the nurses of the future.
One thing 2020 taught me is that it was definitely a year in which nurses became very proficient in the use of PPE! I remember as a student that if your buddy nurse had an isolation patient the general understanding was your shift was going to be so much harder due to PPE.
Fast forward to now and I’ve had 12 hour shifts in N95 masks, with every room a Don and doff level three PPE. In the worst moments of 2020, my uniform included hospital scrubs, shoe covers, hair nets, gowns, gloves, N95 masks and shields.
This makes me wonder if we have seen the next evolution of the nursing uniform. Will the N95 mask become a new standard precaution? And a further ponder, what will nurses look like in five, ten or even 50 years from now?
In my opinion, as we have seen so far in history, changes will continue to occur. Will antimicrobial fabrics be the material for all nursing uniform? Will all clasps be brass or silver? Will hospital scrubs washed by the hospital be here to stay?
I can’t help to feel if nurses who’ve worked during varying key times in nursing history also felt that they were living in a pivotal moment in history. What were the experiences of others this year?
Thank you for taking the time to read the musing of a new nurse.
Lyndel Echter MACN is a Stage Two Emerging Nurse Leader with the Australian College of Nursing.