Nursing then and now - Angie Salmons' fond lookback at her 30 years

We've struck gold with these reminiscences from Angie Salmons, now a Sister on Ward 3,  who is celebrating 30 years a nurse.

 Her colleagues love her so much they celebrated by putting up her pictures from yesteryear  with balloons on the Children's Assessment and had cake and flowers delivered to the ward for her.

As part of our International Nurses' day celebrations  we asked her to look 30 years and compare nursing in 2019 to nursing in 1989. Back then she recalls her pride in the blue belts and a buckle, meeting her husband at Halifax Royal Infirmary ...and being dunked in the bath!

What made you want to be a nurse?

 I always wanted to be a nurse from an early age. My original status I put on Facebook was to highlight that I had achieved 30 years of nursing despite being told at school and in my job prior to nursing I would not be successful or ever qualify as a nurse, therefore with determination and a positive outlook, we can all achieve our dreams and goals in life.


How have the uniforms  changed?

 Back in 1989, the nurses uniforms were dresses. Students wore checked dresses, Enrolled nurses wore green dresses  and qualified staff nurses wore blue dresses with a belt and buckle. As a student qualifying, the aim was to get that belt and buckle!  It was very satisfying to finally obtain that blue belt and buckle, a proud moment.  Although I still have my belt and buckle,  after 30 years and  3 children there's no way on earth I can get it around my waist!  Nurses hats/ caps  were worn which I loved. The caps covered up the messiest of hair styles, however were easily knocked off your head by traction poles!!Today there is more choice of uniform and more comfort, still in blue I might add !


How has the food for patients changed?

The food choices today for patients are aimed more at healthy eating. In 1989, there was less choice, however patients could still order a three course meal.

As for staff, breaks were much more organised and regimented, staff knew when they had to go to break and everyone went to the canteen to eat, meet up and socialise. This is how everyone got to know everyone else and even on a night shift, all staff went to the canteen in order of their job role, i.e. auxiliary nurses went to first break, then students and finally staff nurses! No one ever went in the wrong order or you had the wrath of the auxiliary nurses who seemed to rule with an iron fist !


How have the doctors changed?

The doctors all wore white coats. They certainly didn't adhere to infection control rules we have in place now!   During  ward rounds they followed the consultant round in a big entourage ( which still happens today)  and there had to be silence on the ward whilst the ward round took place.  No giggly nurses allowed! Today there is a more multi-disciplinary approach to patient care and treatment.


What about morale, then and now?


In regard to team spirit, I have made life long friends  along the way which I will always be grateful for. Back in 1989, everyone was friendly and sociable. All grades of staff mixed together including cleaners, radiographers, kitchen staff, nurses  and porters. As a student going from ward to ward on placement meant you worked with a variety of staff and as everyone went to the canteen there was always someone to say hello to.

Living in the nurses' home was an experience but there was always someone around to share problems and support one another and of course nights out were a must!

As for me, I met my husband working at the old Royal Halifax Infirmary and celebrated my 21st birthday working a shift on a medical ward where I was spoilt with presents and cards.

There were fun times and serious times and no one can forget being dunked in the bath, covered in talc and shaving foam on your last shift on placement!

Emotional roller-coaster.

Overall, the last 30 years in nursing has been an emotional rollercoaster with good times and bad times, highs and lows with fun times and very fond memories.

A colleague, said: " She has worked in many areas of childrens nursing and she’s spent the majority of her career within our trust and plans to spend the rest of it here! She’s done so much to improve our ward for example she’s improved our medical device compliance and arranged set days to achieve this which have been a huge success.