SIR,-1 would very much like to know whether Mr. Peter Thompson has ever been inside a hospital: I should say from his article that he has not and would even go so far as to describe this article in the very apt American phrase—" Punk."
It would appear that his evidence is based on the opinions of secondary school girls: why he considers them authorities on these matters is rather obscure, seeing that their experience of hospital is probably even less than his. Further, the opinions quoted are mainly incorrect; few better opportunities are to be found to make lifelong friends than during the four-year course which nurses have to undertake. Has Mr. Thompson heard of the general knowledge test that girls have to pass before they are allowed to start training? If this test is failed (and it is of high standard), no training school will accept them as probationers, As one who practises in a hospital recognised by the General Nursing Council as a training school, and run by one of our Catholic nursing orders, I would like to say that the phrase " is rather like entering a convent " is true, but with certain reservations. Nursing must of necessity entail strict discipline; obedience to superiors and infinite patience with others. These things surely point to the vocational life, but on the other hand, our nurses are given good off-duly time and complete freedom when off. It is quite true that they have to clean the taps and sinks and even dust the furniture, but this, in company with other unpleasant duties, ensures the weeding out of the undesirable type of girl who is apt to regard nursing as a " soft job " or a prolonged holiday.
The headmistress who quotes the corpsewashing incident is apparently unaware that probationers spend some time in the preliminary training school before ever they conic in contact with even a live patient. I can say from experience that the girl whose relatives are members of the medical profession does not receive any form of preferential treatment—rather the reverse, lest she should be tempted to put on airs of superiority.
I have two comments to make on the V.D. ward incident—one, that, given a proper training school, the nurse would already have been fully aware of the dangers of infection, and second, that the pose of righteous horror adopted concerning these diseases shows a total lack of Christian charity with those people who are often most in need of it.
Every " real " nurse knows though her pay is poor in this world, her reward in the next will be proportionately greater. In any case, Mr. Thompson fails to make It clear whether he is criticising the W.L.F. report or just deploring the lack of nurses.
P. J. M. WRIGHT, MB,, B.S. (Loud.), M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.
133, Reigate Avenue, Sutton, Surrey,
[Peter Thompson was reporting the findings of the Women's Employment Federation, not necessarily giving his own views,— EDITOR. j
In a Catholic Hospital
s1R,-1 fail to see how any sensible person can take notice of the opinions of sixth form school-girls on the subject of nursing—a job which is very definitely a vocation.
Unfortunately, the majority of girls these days are brought up to think that as long as they manage to get a good time and get a soft job, they are all right. The deeper things in life apparently go to the wall.
The shortage of nurses is, 1 think, due to the older nurses themselves simply by their own long suffering and non-complaining attitude in years past in putting up with conditions which are now in some cases intolerable, but in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred have been altered to suit present conditions.
As one who is closely connected with hospitals and their humane work, I have yet to find the nurse who feels that her time and training have been wasted and would change her job given the opportunity. The pay we know is not good, but every " nurse " feels that her reward is riot of this world.
Regarding the opinions of the headmistress contained in the article, I must say that I just do not believe them to be true, and unless the W.E.F. had proof of them they are doing a real barn, to the most noble profession in saying such things. Long hours we know cannot be avoided, but in what profession that is worth while these days can you find hours of 10 am.5 p.m. in operation?
That nursiqg is a vocation no one will deny, and therefore everybody cannot make a success of it. How many priests, nuns and brothers discover after a time that they have no vocation?—does not this apply to nursing?
We have here in our hospital, which is a Catholic one and under the care of a nursing order, fifty nurses, all Catholics, and not one of these girls have 1 yet heard complain of her lot. Equally so of another hospital staffed entirely by non-Catholics, also in the same district.
Given the right type of girl, be she Catholic or non-Catholic, we would not hear so much about the bad side which is magnified enormously by these well-meaning busybodies, but more of the charitable side which is so evident to those whose work takes them into these havens of rest and kindness.
The satisfaction to a nurse is to see her patient well and to know that when her time is done it will be said to her : "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
F. J. HODGE, 3, Hoine Chase, Epsom Road, Lower Morden, Surrey.
SIR,-1 have been for sonic years closely associated with Voluntary Hospitals and I can assure your readers that the arguments put forward by the Women's Employment Federation against the nursing profession are in at least two instances unfounded on general fact. No woman is permitted to nurse male venereal patients, who are " warded " specifically for that disease, and no probationer newly arrived would in any hospital worthy of the name be permitted even to assist in the laying out of a corpse.
Your paper is surely among the best fitted to put forward the vocational. selfsacrificieg, and therefore soul's-satisfying aspect of the nursing profession. Particularly as there is in London the Catholic Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth whose training of nurses is admitted on all sides to have no equal, and whose building alone, centred as it is around the Chapel bears a silent witness to the first essential of its work.
For your correspondent to pick from the mass of evidence so far presented to the Government Commission a conglomeration of adolescent materialism and the prejudiced impressions of a few older women cannot fail to do harm to the many who may only now be becoming aware of the first whisper of vocation to what is among the highest professions open to them.
The enlightened treatment of nurses: the Shortening of hours. the improvement in food and in conditions receives at present but scant publicity; such arguments from the particular to condemn in general the nurse's life, as Mr. Peter Thompson has repeated are best reserved for the eyes of a Commission well able to discern a logical fallacy than thrown before a multitude of people who are often more impressed by sensationalism than sound reasoning. It is impassible to legislate for human frailty but the type of hospital which still has Matrons Or Sisters capable of perpetuating the attitude which the Women's Employment Federation report is almost extinct. Why should hospitals as a whole stand condemned for the mismanagement of an already discredited few?
E. J. R. BURROuGH.
Apple Tree Cottage, Fairfield Road, Petts Wood, Kent.