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Making Good on Private Duty   By:

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"Not to be ministered unto, but to minister"


Though technic is constantly changing, methods improving, and the teaching in our schools grows better and more comprehensive, the old problems in private work are ever to be faced, and still the young sister in our nursing world needs to be counselled, guided and helped. It is for these young private duty nurses that this book has been written.

For six years I went up and down one of our large cities doing private nursing, and I can remember, as if it were but yesterday, the curious little sinking of the heart I used to feel, as I mounted the steps of a house where there was a new patient needing my care. "Would I do everything right?" "Could I please the patient and the friends?" "Would the doctor be satisfied with my efforts?" "How would I feel when I was leaving?" "Encouraged or hopeless?" "Happy or sad?" A strange house looks so forbidding, "would this one ever look friendly?" There is time, while walking up the steps, for these and many more such thoughts to crowd into the nurse's mind. Once in the presence of the patient, however, all this quickly changes, and action puts all wondering and doubt to flight.

The "hints" here given are the fruit of my own experience and that of the graduates of the school of which I was the superintendent. Many long talks we had, when they felt the need of coming back to their hospital home for advice and comfort. It is an earnest wish to help the young graduate over the intricate paths that the inexperienced nurse must often tread that has led me to revise some early contributions [Footnote: Printed by permission of the Trained Nurse .] to the Trained Nurse and write a few new ones, which have within the past year appeared in the American Journal of Nursing .

In the chapter "Hints to the Obstetrical Nurse," there is little or nothing that is commonly taught in the class room.

All of that is so well done, repetition here would be tiresome. All the asepsis is familiar to every graduate. She knows how to sterilize any and every thing, but sometimes she does not know the best way to wash and dry the baby's little shirts or knitted shawls. Sometimes she will not realize that if the layette cannot be purchased at a store, old table linen makes the best diapers for the newborn baby, and that his pillowcase should not have embroidery in the center.

I wish in this part to give the nurse such hints that she may be able to help any woman who wishes to prepare for her confinement. I have been asked so many times to tell a young expectant mother just what to get, that I have made for convenience as full a list as is necessary for any baby or mother, with some hints as to the washing of the baby. The rest it is expected every nurse who graduates from a training school would know. The table for calculating an expectant confinement was cut from a medical paper and given me by a physician some years ago. He did not know who wrote it, nor do I, but he always used it, and I have found it most accurate.

The recipes I have given are, I know, reliable, having all been tested many times. Most of the articles of food every nurse has probably prepared, but exact proportions have a dreadful way of slipping out of one's memory. Whether it is a pint of milk or a quart that must be mixed with two eggs for a custard might not seem much of a problem to a housekeeper, but to a nurse who has perhaps not made a custard for a year it might carry many difficulties.

I have tried to help in this most important part of a nurse's duty, and not only as to the food served the patient, but the manner of serving it, which last is truly to a sick person of as much importance as the food itself. The few leaves I have left blank are for such additional recipes as every nurse will gather as she goes from house to house... Continue reading book >>

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