Selected writings of A. Jackson Howe.
Twenty-five years ago the trained nurse was not such a factor in medical and surgical practice as she is to-day. Educated nurses were scarce then as compared to the present, and much prejudice was felt against their employment. Professor Howe speaks a word for the hospital nurse—who then needed a word of cheer and commendation to lift her above the prejudices that surrounded her and to help her become the indispensable aid she is to-day.—Ed. Gleaner.
HOSPITAL NURSES.—In a late address by Lawson Tait, the renowned abdominotomist said: "I train my own nurses. The hospital trained nurses are a nuisance—they have ideas of their own which obtrude themselves when least wanted."
At present in Cincinnati there is an aggressive effort made to educate female nurses in the city hospitals, and considerable success in that direction has been attained. The remarks of Mr. Tait would seem to be a wet blanket for the enterprise, but it is not. If the great abdominal surgeon could not have specially educated nurses he would be only too glad to engage hospital-trained nurses.
Educated nurses are scarce in America, hence hospital-nurses are an advance upon the untrained trash of "ye olden time." It will take time to overcome prejudice—to induce a male patient to accept the attention of a female nurse in the pay department of a hospital, but as soon as he finds that a female nurse is skilled and attentive his prejudices will disappear.
The Catholic Sisters make good nurses, for the discipline of their order is such that they have first learned to mind their own business. The average American woman who nurses for a living is high tempered, strong-minded, and "as good as you are or anybody else,"—she can not be content with carrying out a physician's directions—she will be curious to modify them a little—she would make reputation of her own for skill and originality of execution.
But, let us have hospital-trained nurses rather than none—let the novice in the art of nursing learn to make a bean soup which is so creamy in consistence and delicious in flavor that a languid palate will just hanker for a sip of it. Let her study the caprices of sick-nature, and how best to cater to a particular fancy. The sight of some nurses is enough to make a fastidious mortal sick.
The rural nurse who takes care of country women in confinement is a rara avis—she is usually old, fat, lazy, and clumsy. and if she don't take snuff and drink whisky she is a jewel. She is looked upon as a necessity if she be a nuisance; and her gossip is palpably pernicious. She knows a year in advance when a baby is to be born—and is rarely too previous in her prognostications. —HOWE, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1890.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.