Cal­i­for­nia mu­seum of­fers peek into nurs­ing his­tory

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Out­liers is many things, in­clud­ing his­tor­i­cally minded. That’s why we’re ex­cited to hear about the Cal­i­for­nia Hos­pi­tal Med­i­cal Cen­ter’s School of Nurs­ing’s mu­seum in Los An­ge­les.

Now, you won’t find price­less ar­ti­facts like the Rosetta stone or pic­tures of an­cient hi­ero­glyph­ics. But the mu­seum’s ex­hibits do pro­vide vis­i­tors with a dose of what it was like at­tend­ing the first nurs­ing class in 1898. The mu­seum in­cludes ex­am­ples of equip­ment such as old exam ta­bles and wheel­chairs. And then there are ex­am­ples of old nurs­ing uni­forms, in­clud­ing a di­a­gram with in­struc­tion on how nurses should fold, starch and take care of their tra­di­tional white hats—the sig­na­ture ac­cent of their uni­forms. There are also dis­plays show­ing the dif­fer­ent uni­forms through the years.

“They all look like cos­tumes now,” Su­san Shum, the hos­pi­tal’s direc­tor of de­vel­op­ment, jokes in an in­ter­view with Out­liers.

The nurs­ing school’s fi­nal class grad­u­ated in 1984. But this year the hos­pi­tal is cel­e­brat­ing its 125th an­niver­sary, and Shum and the hos­pi­tal are do­ing their best to make alumni take part in the fes­tiv­i­ties.

The mu­seum hosts alumni re­unions, fundrais­ers and other spe­cial events. Shum, who helps or­ga­nize fundrais­ers, says the old pho­tos that show the hos­pi­tal’s changes through the years are her fa­vorite. Hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials call it the Archive Room, and it shows the hos­pi­tal, which she says was ba­si­cally a shack in 1898, to its cur­rent 316-bed stature.

Out­liers feels nurses should have a strong sense of their his­tory. Per­haps for one day in class, nurs­ing stu­dents could fold and starch hats like yes­ter­year. Shum dis­agrees.

“I think the caps are cool,” she says. “But they’re prob­a­bly a pain to wear if you’re a nurse.”


The hos­pi­tal’s archives fea­ture old nurses’ uni­forms and caps as well as an old wheel­chair and other an­tique equip­ment.

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