Friday, June 29, 2007

Victorian Medicine: Nurses

Victorian Order of Nurses, 1892

As an SL physician, I realize the role of a nurse is indispensable to the efforts of restoring the health to the infirm and sick. Therefore, I shall annotate a brief synopsis about this honorable profession...

Florence Nightingale, 1866

Many casualties of the 19th century battles were not killed immediately, but suffered wounds the became infected, leading to slow, nasty deaths. Early in the century, no systematic efforts were made to provide supportive care to the wounded.

In 1854, in response to reports of medical conditions in the Crimean War, the British government recruited Florence Nightingale to organize better care for wounded soldiers. Taking three other nurses and 30,000 pounds ($150,000), she travelled to the Black Sea. Despite bitter opposition from Army doctors, she was able to push through such radical ideas as clean clothes and beds. Within a year she was running the hospital. Her reforms created lasting changes in military medicine and hospital care and helped create the profession of nursing. Dorothea Dix played a similar role in the American Civil War, organizing the first nursing corps in 1861.

Unidentified British nurses posing, 1899

In this period, nurses typically had a strong, almost religious sense of vocation and duty. They defined their own role as one of subordination to doctors; nurses followed orders, regardless of their personal feelings, and do not presume to practice medicine or have medical opinions. but an experienced nurse, especially one with administrative powers, always has a way of bringing doctors into line.

Stoddard, W.H. (2000) - Gurps Steampunk, pg. 65, SJG:Austin
[edited for removal of game specific content]

1 comment:

Artesia B's World said...
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