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.
So, Nursing Caps became tradition because some antiquated society thought that proper women should keep their heads covered. Let’s get that one straight.
I love the symbol of the nursing cap because it is something we all recognize as ‘ours’. However, that does not mean that it is a good or HEALTHY symbol for our profession.
Today, a seasoned nurse posted this:
Nurses, please, I am begging you. Don’t wear your hair down when you wear your nursing cap! It could not be more unprofessional! If you want to show off graduation pictures, or capping ceremony pictures, get that hair UP!
Give me some credit. I tried to save her.
However, it degenerated into exactly what you might think. However, the ‘are you crazy?’ responses disturbed me less than the “Honor the Cap” responses. Indignant honor the cap responses. Like…seriously…. Also, a nurse who says she wears a cap to work every single day. Who essentially said that we would all be much better off if nursing traditions were followed…
What nursing traditions? You mean the ones where we followed the Doc around with the chart rack, lit his cigarette, stood when he arrived at the nurse’s station, and offered him our chairs? Because, we had just worked all night and a man taking a chair from a lady isn’t acceptable in any OTHER situation I know of. Except for this one……would you like to know why?
That cap identified you as a servant.
They told you it was to serve sick people, which was fine. however, skip back a paragraph and read that scenario again. You have a degree, you can be sued for malpractice. You are responsible for the lives of your patients. You do not juggle bedpans and light physician’s cigarettes. You are not a ‘TV’ nurse. And women in this society do not have to keep their heads covered so they are not considered a harlot. Also……MEN are nurses now.
My Response to the cap wearer:
Enjoy your cap. We are not going to agree. However, Nurses do not wear the cap anymore. I am not sure what setting you work in, but my hospital would have a nervous breakdown if I were to show up in a cap. Because they are an infection control issue. Also, I would poke my eyes out first, because they are a symbol NOT of a great tradition, but of the doctor’s handmaiden stereotype that we must rid ourselves of if we are going to be taken seriously as a profession. Peace.
And that, my friends….is that.
There are really important issues that we have to work on in nursing, and they sure as hell are not nursing traditions. Safe Staffing. Workplace Violence. No Psych Beds. You know….real things that have an impact on our patients. Not our pretty hats. Nursing has changed, fashion is not what it once was, and insurance companies are running the place.
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