Reflections of a privtae duty NC nurse 1919

Dear Editor: I am glad the Editor came to the defense of the private duty nurse, for when I read in the March number of the Journal, The Industrial Nurse, I almost became indignant; not so much because I was personally offended, being one of the poor “wage earners” myself, but when I think of hundreds of fine capable women in the ranks of Private Duty Nursing who are godsend both to the poor and rich alike, my otherwise even temper became somewhat ruffled. I consider the private duty nurse, if she is conscientious, as much of a teacher as the Institutional, Industrial or Public Health nurse. Of course her field is not so large, but it is just as important and her mission cannot be filled by any of these others, however, momentous (and all admit that), their work can may be. Take, for instance, a poor family in the country, miles and miles from the doctor, four of whom are stricken with typhoid. She works faithfully almost day and night, catching what moments of sleep and rest she can, knowing that the inability to do her duty may cost one of these precious lives. If the panic-stricken husband and father is not able to secure the services of a cook at the outset, she attends to the making of liquid foods, broths, etc., for her patients, and swallows raw eggs and manages to gulp down the indigestible bread and boiled cabbage which the twelve-year-old child of the family has so heroically prepared, knowing that her own physical strength must be maintained to care for her charges. And she must teach the husband not to wash his dishes in the basin on the back porch, used for the hands (this is no fairy tale, for I’ve seen it done), and must instruct the twelve-year-old daughter, who is mothering a six months’ old baby sister that it is not good for the baby to administer soothing syrups to make it sleep. The nurse must prepare baby’s food and teach the child the necessity of cleanliness of nipples and bottles. And when at last the black cook does arrive (she is only instructed with the cooking for the well ones), there are many things to be shown her, and with her help the nurse scrubs all the floors and puts the house in apple-pie order, hence teaching sanitations. As for taking ‘temperature and giving sponge baths” being belittled, sometimes the very life of the patient depends upon these things being done faithfully and accurately. And who but a private duty nurse knows the wholeness satisfaction and “respectable” feeling of bathing the patient and tidying the bed before the arrival of the doctor in the morning, to say nothing of the satisfaction and appreciation of the patient who is prepared to meet the doctor with a smile and tell him or her, she feels the battle is worth striving for. Oh yes, army of patient workers, it is just these little things bravely and faithfully carried out, that count so much to you, and countless numbers will rise and call you blessed, for the performance of duties which seemingly in themselves are trivial. Then there is the long, hopeless case, - who will gainsay that the nurse’s personality counts even more than the ability to teach? She will need to know something of psychology, with the happy faculty of putting herself in the place of her patient, to bear patiently and smilingly the many whims and caprices of suffering and distorted mind, perhaps. And most of all, she will need to cultivate the spiritual side. She herself must know the meaning of a strong and undimmed faith in out heavenly Father, the giver of all good, and be able to impart to her patient something of the joys that her religion gives her in this practical workday world of ours. Dear me! Did I say spiritual, most of all? Then I must combine humor with that most coveted to a very full degree, the felicitous ability to see the funny side of life, - of laughing away the little but irritating annoyances that beset even the most complacent, at times.

North Carolina