Friday, 23 August 2019

Nursing as a Career


Cape Argus – 1939, February 27
The profession of nursing, which was until comparatively recent times one of the few to which women who wanted a career could turn, has of late attracted an alarmingly small number of recruits. The reasons for this state of affairs are many, but perhaps the most important one is that, judged by the standard of most other professions, the conditions in which nursing is done are unsatisfactory and advancement is slow, but not very sure. In other words, hard work and little pay do not attract anybody but the girl who feels that she has a vocation and who is willing to give disinterested service in fulfillment of it. However, reforms are now being made in various directions and the nurses of the future should have a little cause for complaint.

To encourage the recruitment of young women as nurses, a monster meeting was held in London. Queen Mary, Princess Alice and the Earl of Athlone attended it and the Archbishop of Canterbury presided. In the audience were senior girls from schools all over the country and members of various youth organisations. Previously they had been taken over several London hospitals so that they could see something in the conditions in which nurses work and live.
The Archbishop read to the meeting a message given by Queen Mary in which she said:
“Certainly, now more than ever willing helpers are needed in the sacred cause of preventing ill-health, of securing the safety of motherhood, and of relieving sickness and pain. I appeal to the girls of the country to ask themselves whether they may not find in this profession not only a career of interest and usefulness but one of the truest and noblest forms of national service.” Her Majesty’s words, said the Archbishop, admirably summarized the purpose of the meeting. Referring to the report recently made by the Inter-departmental Committee on the Nursing Services over which Lord Athlone presided, he hoped that it would result in the removal of all reasonable grounds for dissatisfaction. He stressed, however, the fact, as did each of the other speakers, that nursing is a career which still demands a sense of vocation.
Miss Reynolds, matron of the London Hospital, suggested that women of teaching ability were sorely needed in the nursing profession, as sister tutors for the theoretical instruction of student nurses, or as dieticians; as ward sisters; as industrial nurses in factories and as district and public health nurses. For the ambitions, she concluded, there was unlimited scope in the profession of nursing.
The report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Nursing Services to which reference was made at the meeting was largely the work of the joint secretaries Sir Weldon Dalrymple-Champneys and Mr. W.A.B.M. Hamilton.
“To their energy and enterprise,” noted the committee headed by Lord Athlone, “we largely owe the immense amount of valuable information placed before us, while the co-ordination of as much complex detail is a tribute to their skill.”
Sir Weldon Dalrymple-Champneys, Bt., an official in the British Ministry of Health, was in Cape Town two years ago when he collected Button Spiders for a particular piece of scientific investigation in which he was engaged.
His interest in the medical health of the nation is hereditary. His father, the late Sir Francis Champneys, obtained the first charter for midwives in Great Britain (the first Midwives Act).
For some time Sir Weldon has been investigating the shortage of nurses in Great Britain and looking into the working conditions which seem to make nursing unattractive to young women. As a result of his committee’s report hospital conditions are likely to be greatly improved from the nurse’s point of view.

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