By Maureen “Shawn” Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN interim editor-in-chief
When I was a little girl about six or seven years old, I decided that I would dress up as a nurse one Halloween. My mother bought me a play nurse’s kit. It was a pink plastic “little nurse bag” containing a white nurse’s cap, a stethoscope, a tongue depressor, blue-framed plastic glasses that perched on your nose, a plastic thermometer with the “mercury line” painted to 101 degrees, a plastic hypodermic syringe, a small notepad and pencil, cotton balls, and Band-Aids. (For your information, the “junior doctor kit” contained pretty much the same things, except it was black plastic, had a yellow and orange plastic otoscope, and a headband with a reflector disc. My brother received one of those.) I wore a white blouse and tan skirt (my mother drew the line at buying clothes for one day) and used a safety-pin to clip a blue towel around my neck as a cape. I wore the nurse’s cap and glasses. My brother dressed in his Catholic school uniform (white shirt and navy blue pants and red tie) and wore his stethoscope around his neck and his little blue glasses perched on his nose. We were quite the medical team. I wonder how many nursing or medical career seeds were planted with those play kits.
With Halloween this weekend, many schools celebrated throughout the week, and I saw a few princesses and superheroes and at least five Buzz Lightyears around the neighborhood, but no nurses. Do children dress up as nurses or physicians nowadays? I googled “play nurse kit” and a few sites came up. Target offers kid-size scrubs or a lame smock with stethoscope and other items sort of painted onto the pockets; everything else on the site relates to nursing as in breast-feeding. The only kits you can still find are a combined, unisex, one-size-fits-all sort of “nurse/doctor kit.”
So now I’m wondering—what would real nurses put in a play nurse’s kit now?