Nursing Voices

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Perfect Woman's Perfect Nurse

She’s back!

In today’s post, Dr. Mary R. Melendy, M.D., PH. D. tells readers what qualities make the perfect nurse.

Dr. Melendy advises the perfect woman that from time to time, she may need to hire a nurse to help care for an ailing family member. She said that a perfect woman must not only be a good mother, but a good wife as well, and that by hiring a nurse she will have more time to cook and clean, and wait on her husband. God forbid that a man should ever be expected to get off his dead-butt and help around the house.

It was hard to find a good nurse in the early 1900s. According to Dr. Melendy, the perfect nurse had a bright and cheery disposition, a light step, and a happy face. Since men were repressing women back then, I’m sure these requirements contributed to the nursing shortage. During the interview process, Dr. Melendy encouraged readers to look for a Christian woman with a pleasant voice, a cheerful smile, good dexterity, a strong back, and good culinary skills. A nurse had to be a whiz in the kitchen so she could whip up a batch of gruel when it was needed. Readers were also told to look for an obedient woman who required little sleep. Dr. Melendy warned readers against hiring anyone who was “croaker” or a “putterer,” saying that they ought to be either “married or widowed.”

It was very important that the perfect nurse know how to setup and maintain a sickroom, because without an ideal environment, the patient would never regain his or her health. Dr. Melendy said that good health depended on superior room ventilation, so the perfect nurse knew to open all the windows, even in the dead of winter. The perfect nurse protected her patient from drafts, removed wilted flowers from her patient’s room, and protected her patient’s eyes from the direct rays of the sun or lamp light. She also knew how to use a mop, and a scrub board when washing her patient’s bed linen. Like today, the perfect nurse could multitask.

As archaic as Dr. Melendy’s ideas seem today, she did give her readers one excellent piece of advice on how to find and retain a good nurse: Follow her advice, pay her well, and most importantly treat her with respect and dignity.

In my next installment of the Perfect Woman we will discuss Dr. Melendy’s thoughts on courtship and marriage.


Blogger Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

That is too hilarious--and I'm looking forward to the advice on courtship and marriage! I've been divorced for a couple of years and I've become extremely gun-shy. (I kinda like not having to be perfect anymore, heh!)

10:59 PM  
Blogger Michael Clifford, L. Ac. said...

Heck I never have ben perfect, but then again I have been single for most of my life and find myself in thhat state-of-bing once again. I laughed at the descriptions, contradictions and all.
The same advice is always appropriate: Pay the nurse well and treat her/him with respect. Now if I can only learn what I obviously missed about courting and marriage. LMSAO

8:55 AM  
Blogger Nurse M said...

Good post! I am also looking forward to the next one.

11:37 AM  
Blogger poody said...

LMAO!! I love the cheery dispostion part. That leaves me out!But I do have a good back and can cook!So what happened to the pay the nurse well and treat them with respect?? Nursing shortage? What there's a nursing shortage?? I thought nurses were just kept in a box and taken out as needed!!

12:00 PM  
Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

I want to know what a "croaker" or a "putterer" is....

2:08 PM  
Blogger Mother Jones RN said...

Hello Counselor:

A croaker is someone who likes to gossip. A putterer is someone who is lazy. I don't know how anyone who used a wash board to wash their patient's clothers, and mopped floors could be considered lazy.


2:22 PM  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Can'ty wait to hear more from Dr Melendy.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

I always think of how many prostitutes were recruited for the civil war. Wonder what those interviews were like......

11:45 PM  
Blogger Smalltown RN said...

ROTFL!!!!!!to funny...I needed to read that after the past two days I have had at work.

I too am looking forward to Part 2!!!

1:11 AM  
Blogger SQT said...


As if!

I can't wait for further installments.

2:04 AM  
Blogger Lea said...

"Readers were also told to look for an obedient woman who required little sleep."

That is my favorite part!!! A tired woman would certainly not be obedient.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Wow! Sounds like an impossible task. Of all of the people I know, not a single one of them fits all of those attributes. I'd say a nurse is a pretty spectacular thing to be!

2:43 PM  
Blogger greensunflower said...

You know some of that advice was almost heading in our current direction. Shows you how much nursing relies on tradition AND research.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother and her sisters became R.N.s in the teens of the last century. They were required to live on campus in a dormitory, never leaving the grounds without permission, attended classes AND did scut work as well as nurse-training-work in the hospital daily, were immediately dismissed if they had a 'serious' boyfriend, got married or, God forbid, got pregnant. Yet, they all loved, absolutely loved nursing!

8:33 PM  

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