If you want to appreciate how far medicine and nursing have come in the last century, watch a few episodes of Cinemax’s “The Knick” starring Clive Owen. Just when I had gotten through watching PBS’s “Call the Midwife” along came a recommendation from a nursing friend to check out the hospital drama based in New York City in the early 1900’s.
Surgery with little to no anesthesia, no physiological monitoring of anything, surgeons elbow deep in someone’s abdomen with no gloves on, barbaric treatment of mental illness, and plenty of infections and deaths. Oh, did I mention that the star (Owen) is a cocaine-addicted rock star surgeon who frequents a brothel in Chinatown every night? I realized after a few episodes that this was not the ‘get away from it all’ TV that I typically enjoy watching. But it certainly made me appreciate how far we’ve come and grateful that I do not have to wear those very starchy and white nursing uniforms! (Although I do love those nursing capes!)
From an historical perspective, however, the series is an eye-opener for what poor and working class immigrants in New York had to deal with when they needed health care. I’ll keep watching if only to make me appreciate what we have today—-antibiotics, sterile technique, anesthesia, diagnostic radiology, and scrubs!