I recall a faculty member in the early 1980s, who was also a critical care nurse, describing a nursing practice she performed before the arrival of critical care units in the 1960s. She talked about being hired as a graduate nursing student to sit in a patient’s room all shift and watch the cardiac monitor. The monitor reportedly had a round oscilloscope with a view of about 3 seconds that did not have recording capabilities.

She went on to tell how she was given pencils and numerous pieces of paper on which to draw what she saw passing across the 3-second oscilloscope, and then disappearing forever. Most nurses did not know back then what a P, QRS, or T wave was, much less sinus rhythm, but they learned to draw what they were seeing very quickly. They also did not know the changes...

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