Monday, July 26, 2010

Term "Diet Kitchen" Handed Down from Training Schools for Nurses Still In Use Today

Early  Diet Kitchen Instruction for Nurses 

Diet Kitchen was a separate subject taught in the early Training Schools for Nurses of the late 1800's. Early nurses prepared all meals for all patients and much time was spent learning to prepare special diets  in the Diet Kitchen. The nurses were taught Diet Kitchen by other nurses in the early Training programs until there were trained Dietitians in the 1900's. The Diet Kitchen instruction started with basic cooking the first year and continued throughout the length of the program. From the recipes in the early Diet Kitchen textbooks, the nurses were taught how to prepare an extensive list of complicated diets with wide selections. Extensive instruction was also given for preparing diets for children and infants. Much emphasis was placed on the importance of a healthy diet, presentation of meals and the preparation of  many  deserts and beverages. 

This Graduation Certificate from the Connecticut Training School for Nurses in 1894 shows "Miss Pirce" (Rhode Island) made 5/5 on her "Reports of Diet Kitchen work."  

The Connecticut Training School for Nurses 1894
By 1916 all states had State Board examinations allowing the Trained Nurse to become a Registered Nurse (RN) provided the nurse could pass the State Board Exam. Nursing had come a long way in such a few short years but there was a big difference in what was being taught in Diet Kitchen (all subjects) by the different schools. The American Journal of Nursing was in full swing by this time and played a huge part in standardizing the education and training of early nurses. The AJN, founded in 1900, printed reports from each Training School.and helped the National League for Nursing Education which had been formed in 1912 (later to become the (NLN) and the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses collect the data.

One such report in the A.J.N.that helped standardize the early Diet Kitchen training. 

"The methods of instruction employed in hospital diet kitchens vary to such an extent that it is difficult to find a beginning for the discussion of this important subject. As a rule the superintendent of nurses outlines, in a general way, the course of instruction in dietetics which she desires for the nurses of her training school, but the details of the work and the methods of instruction are usually arranges and worked out by the dietitian who has charge of the diet kitchen. Since dietitians differ greatly in their methods, the instruction offered by various hospitals is apt to be dissimilar, and even in the same hospital methods are constantly changing with each new dietitian. The main object of the dietitian is to give the nurse a through training in invalid cookery and sufficient knowledge of dietetics to enable her to pass the state board examination when she graduates. With these objects in view, we will now discuss some of the methods used to impart this knowledge to the nurse..."
DIET KITCHEN METHODS OF INSTRUCTION By Alice Urquhart Fewell Santa Monica, California. The American Journal of Nursing, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Nov., 1916), p 105

Ninety Four years later nurses don't have to cook for the patients.(though we will gladly reheat food in the microwave)
The signs of the Diet Kitchen and early training remain. In the older hospitals that have not been remodeled yet, even hospitals built through the 1950's, you can find the Diet Kitchen. As the cooking for patients by nurses phased out the Diet Kitchen got smaller until by the 40' and 50's the room for the diet kitchen contained only a stove, refrigerator, sink and cabinet space. There are many sayings and phrases that have been handed down since the early days of Nurses Training (after all, some of them have not closed the doors since they opened) but the term Diet Kitchen is probably the most common. Today most older nurses in the hospital refers to any room that has anything to do with patient food as "The Diet Kitchen"

                                                                                       Vernon Dutton, RN

         onlinenursing    "GO NURSING"

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