by T. G. HAYWARD
MOST people have prob ably seen the district nurse in their area. In former years she was a very familiar figure in uniform, either. on foot or on a bicycle. She—or he, as quite a few men enter this profession—have trained as a general nurse in hospital for three years and then taken a further special training in district nursing.
In rural areas the nurse may be qualified as a midwife and health visitor and carry out the duties of all three. When families tended to remain in areas the district nurse may have known three or four generations.
She often worked in isolation in a geographical area. meeting her colleagues occasionally, and only having verbal communication with the doctor about a particular patient. Her hours were long and much of her time was taken up in blanket-baths, dressings, injections and preparing her equipment, essential duties but not using the district nurse to her full potential.
Like most things today, district nursing is changing. Many local authorities provide cars (some with radio control) or give a car allowance. Some nurses now prefer not to wear a uniform.
The public health nursing staff are gradually being attached to group practices of doctors, giving the district nurse far more liaison with the doctor, midwives. health visitors and other public health staff. This closer contact is of great value in maintaining the overall picture of the family. Thus enabling the community to receive a more comprehensive service.
With earlier discharge from hospitals and with the emphasis on prevention and health education the district nurse may be used in a supervisory capacity and be able to carry out some nursing procedures, immunisations, obesity clinics, cervical cytology and other screening procedures in the doctors' surgery.
In addition to their three years' general training, district nurses usually take an extra four months' special district training — except where students take the cootbined training. Many have other qualifications.
Medicine has greatly advanced and we have entered the technological age. So with the emphasis on prevention and health education, the demands on the skills and knowledge of the district nurse in the future will be great.
T. G. Hayward. SRN, SCM, QIDNS, HV.