Nursing as a careerNursing, as a recognized profession is comparatively young. In Great Britain, it dates from the year 1860 when the first school of nursing was established at St. Thomas' Hospital, London by Florence nightingale.
From this, over the last hundred years, Training Schools fro nurses, attached to large hospitals have been built all over Britain and in most other countries, including Malaysia, as well, to train girls for this highly skilled and dedicated profession.
Since then, it is now recognized as a profession. All girls entering it are required to have a good standard of education and normally no one is admitted as a student nurse, without a good pass in the General Certificate Examination at Ordinary Level.
Nursing course does not begin until the age of eighteen. The years, therefore, between sixteen when a girl usually obtains the required "Ordinary levels" and eighteen, when she can begin her nursing training at a preliminary Training School, are difficult ones to fill in.
To cater for this there are, in most countries, pre-nursing courses at Technical Schools. If she attends these, a girl can often fit in a less exacting paid job as well, so that between the years of sixteen and eighteen, she is not only preparing for her training, but also earning a little money as well.
At the age of eighteen, three hard years of intensive training begins, during which girls must attend lectures given by senior nurses, tutors and doctors. They have to read and study in order to pass theory examinations in such subjects as physiology, anatomy and hygiene. They have also to do a great deal of practical work.
At the Preliminary Training School, they learn bed-making and bandaging, which they practice on a life-size doll. Later, they are given training in all the different departments of a large hospital. Outpatients and the operating theater are two examples.
At the end, there is the final examination which includes both the theoretical and the practical. after this, if she passes, the student nurse is fully qualified and entitled to call herself S.R.N. -- State Registered Nurse. These letters are hardly won and dearly cherished and nowadays, there is a State Roll of qualified nurses so that unlike days gone by, amateurs and charlatans cannot prey upon the sick and pretend that they are qualified, when they are not.
On a lower scale, a girl can become a State Enrolled Nurse. The training for this is only two years. There are no State Examinations and the nurses' work and progress are merely 'assessed'. This, therefore, is a way in which girls, lacking academic ability, but having a highly developed sense of vocation may enter the nursing profession.
These days for the trained nurse, there are many different avenues. there is hospital work of all kinds ranging from the care of the elderly sick, to the care of the new born babies and expectant mothers which is called midwifery Much nursing is now done in the homes of the patients. the District Nursing Service caters for this and trains girls to visit the sick at home.
for those with a special vocation, there is the care of the mentally sub-normal or the physically handicapped. there are also unlimited opportunities for travel, because all countries, whether of the East or the west which are short of trained nurses may seek the services of newly trained nurses.
The conditions of service for nurses are not, as good a they ought to be, hours are long, the work hard and the pay not enough. Recently, nurses trying to keep up with the cost of living in Britain, 'staged' an informal one-day strike. Since then, they have received pay rises which are richly deserved.
There are few professions in which personal qualities are so important as in the nursing profession. Nurses must have a genuine desire to serve humanity. No matter how great the advance of Science and technical skills, the nurse must also be scrupulously careful and conscientious, since there can be no 'trusting to luck' when a life may be at stake.
A nurse too must be able to take orders and to accept discipline. At the same time, she must be self-reliant and prepared to take the initiative, if necessary. With skill and patience, she helps her fellow men and women at a time when they need help most.