Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Twentieth Century Follies of the Public Health Nurse

Our clinicians may not have to climb fire escapes every single day, but they still do go to great lengths to care for their patients.

Here's part two in the series from Rebecca...

While at the Simmons College archives looking for material on the relationship between our early organization (the Instructive District Nurses Association or IDNA) and The School of Public Health Nursing at Simmons, we found an absolute treasure….a 15 page book from November 1920 titled the “Twentieth Century Follies of the Public Health Nurse” filled with humorous and satirical poems, stories and cartoons written by the students and staff based on their experiences as visiting nurses.

The School of Public Health Nursing was founded in 1918 as a joint effort between the IDNA and Simmons College in order to provide college level training that was specific to the needs of public health, visiting or community nurses – one of the first programs in the country to do so. Up to this point, most nursing training took place in hospitals and the teaching was focused on issues faced by hospital patients and the nursing skills required for this population, as well as the unique needs of the particular hospital. The new School of Public Health Nursing was chronically short of funds in its early years and frequently appealed for support from both private and public sources. The students and staff created this book to help raise money for the school.

I will periodically share some of the gems from this collection – with GREAT gratitude to the original authors, who are unfortunately anonymous. I hope you enjoy these fun entries, many of which still strike a chord today!

An Everyday Occurrence

A call came into our office today
To visit a patient right away.
The flight was not known but you may know
‘Twas up to the roof where the nurse must go.

She finds the door and gently raps,
Gently, I say, for she’s near collapse.
With scarce any breath she asks the name
And would you believe it – it wasn’t the same.

She looks at her book to see if she’s right,
Where it is written in back and white.
She must call the doctor, and runs for a phone,
His message she takes with an inward groan.
“Did I say Blank Street? Oh, I meant Blank Alley,”
And out again we see her sally.
At last she reaches the highest flight
And wonders if the end is in sight.

She opens the door and walks into the room
She is greeted with tears as if some doom
Were there to stay, “Where is the patient?” we hear her call,
(Now wouldn’t this answer make you bawl?)
“She’s just gone to the hospital.”

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