Nursing Voices

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Quality Nurse

Look at that cute little girl in her daddy’s arms. I wonder if her daddy wants her to be a nurse when she grows up. That’s my dad and me on my grandparent’s farm at a family reunion, and yes, he always wanted me to be a nurse. He was a very practical man. He said, “You won’t get rich being a nurse, but you’ll always have a roof over your head and food on your table.” My new blogging buddy, The Curmudgeon, at Second Effort asked me if he should encourage his daughters to go into nursing. His questions made me start thinking about the qualities that make someone a good nurse. It's a question that people have been asking for a long time.

In the 1914 book, “Practical Points in Nursing for Nurses in Private Practice,” Emily A. M. Stoney discussed the qualities of the perfect nurse. Here are samples of what she said:

Qualifications of the Nurse:

“The questions asked by physicians and surgeons before employing a nurse are: Is she neat and clean, and does she understand all the recent antiseptic methods? Does she know what to look out for in the cases under her care, and when to send for the physician? Is she modest in assuming responsibility? Is she faithful to the physician’s orders, and fitted for the cares of a severe and critical illness? All these questions are asked, together with others, and it is a nurse possessing just these qualifications that each one should wish to be.”

Responsibilities of the Nurse:

“The profession of nursing is one in which there is no limit to the good that can be done; it is also one which every woman embracing it must ‘walk worthy of the vocation wherewith she is called.’ A nurse should have such tact, as well as skill, that she will do what is best for the patients, even against their will, knowing how to manage the weakest and most irritable, and doing all that is necessary for them without their knowing it.”

“She must be scrupulously clean and neat in her own person, especially with regard to the arrangement of her hair, which should be smooth and well kept. The office of nurse is too high and too holy for any woman called to it to wish to devote much time to the adornment of her person. Her one object, as regards herself, should be to be clean, simple, neat, modest, sweet-tempered, and to know how to mind her own business.”

Duties of the Nurse:

“The patient should closely be observed, and all that can be done to make her comfortable should be anticipated, not waiting to be asked for anything. The nurse should wear noiseless shoes, and move about the room quietly; she should look where she is going, and not knock against the bed or the furniture; and she should avoid everything that may annoy the patient.”

“The directions of the doctor must faithfully be carried out, and in the absence of directions the nurse should think what he would like to have done. When she makes a mistake, it should be confessed at the first opportunity; the physician will always be found very kind; but if mistakes are left for him to find out, he will naturally lose confidence in his nurse.”

“A nurse should always wear her cap; it is her badge of authority.”


Anonymous Moof said...

I miss seeing the caps ... I used to know all of the caps from the nursing schools in my part of the state - and so I knew who graduated from where. Things are so much different now - you can't tell the nurses from the techs.

Great post!

12:20 PM  
Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

You absolutely have the best artwork.

Thanks for the mention; I'll be watching for the responses....

3:22 PM  
Blogger kt said...

you do always have the best pictures! i had to wear my cap all through nursing school (1995). you can't go into nursing if you hate people and just want the money. i work with a few of these RNs and they are miserable beings.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Lea said...

I was having a conversation with my son about what he wants to be when he grows up. I told him that he would make a great nurse because he is caring and smart! He smiled and said he wants to be lots of things.

Adorable photo of you and your dad. What a looker he is and you are precious.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Lola2020 said...

I'm a nurse in the uk.Our uniforms are still fairly smart but no caps. When I trained at Guy's in London we had starched linen ones we had to sew and a bow under our chin.
You are probably thinking I trained just after the second world war...actually it was 1986!
I'm glad caps have gone though...they used to get filthy and are a sign of subservience.
I love your blog.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Charly said...

Hey, I'm a former nurse who couldn't handle it. Do you know of any nursing jobs that are not acute care? I'm not sure where to go from here.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Java Queen and Koko Travel said...

I just found your blog and I love it! I presently work in a CV lab in a major heart center in Portland, Oregon. After 31 years nursing I have loved the work that I do, in spite of all of the challenges that we face daily in our profession. What a joy it is to know that we make an impact on people's lives every single day that we work. In a few years, I will be looking at retirement and have begun planning for that phase of my life with as much enthusiasm and dedication as I have had for nursing. Thanks for the blog... I love it! I will be back!

3:53 PM  
Blogger Health said...

More, please visit

4:20 AM  
Blogger gatordo said...

Just came across your blog. I am an osteopathic physician, doing a residency in pathology in baltimore. I don't work with nurses much anymore, but we need more like you. I do miss the caps (my mother-in-law has been a nurse for many years, and I think the pics of her with her cap on are just awesome). I never thought of them as subservient, because I never thought of nurses as subservient. I agree with moof, the cap was a good symbol. But I guess those days are gone. I will send your blog to my little brother. He is in the process of applying to nursing school, and I am sure he would get a kick out of it.

11:25 PM  

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