California museum offers peek into nursing history
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.