Look at that cute little girl in her daddy’s arms. I wonder if her daddy wants her to be a nurse when she grows up. That’s my dad and me on my grandparent’s farm at a family reunion, and yes, he always wanted me to be a nurse. He was a very practical man. He said, “You won’t get rich being a nurse, but you’ll always have a roof over your head and food on your table.” My new blogging buddy, The Curmudgeon, at Second Effort asked me if he should encourage his daughters to go into nursing. His questions made me start thinking about the qualities that make someone a good nurse. It’s a question that people have been asking for a long time.

In the 1914 book, “Practical Points in Nursing for Nurses in Private Practice,” Emily A. M. Stoney discussed the qualities of the perfect nurse. Here are samples of what she said:

Qualifications of the Nurse:

“The questions asked by physicians and surgeons before employing a nurse are: Is she neat and clean, and does she understand all the recent antiseptic methods? Does she know what to look out for in the cases under her care, and when to send for the physician? Is she modest in assuming responsibility? Is she faithful to the physician’s orders, and fitted for the cares of a severe and critical illness? All these questions are asked, together with others, and it is a nurse possessing just these qualifications that each one should wish to be.”

Responsibilities of the Nurse:

“The profession of nursing is one in which there is no limit to the good that can be done; it is also one which every woman embracing it must ‘walk worthy of the vocation wherewith she is called.’ A nurse should have such tact, as well as skill, that she will do what is best for the patients, even against their will, knowing how to manage the weakest and most irritable, and doing all that is necessary for them without their knowing it.”

“She must be scrupulously clean and neat in her own person, especially with regard to the arrangement of her hair, which should be smooth and well kept. The office of nurse is too high and too holy for any woman called to it to wish to devote much time to the adornment of her person. Her one object, as regards herself, should be to be clean, simple, neat, modest, sweet-tempered, and to know how to mind her own business.”

Duties of the Nurse:

“The patient should closely be observed, and all that can be done to make her comfortable should be anticipated, not waiting to be asked for anything. The nurse should wear noiseless shoes, and move about the room quietly; she should look where she is going, and not knock against the bed or the furniture; and she should avoid everything that may annoy the patient.”

“The directions of the doctor must faithfully be carried out, and in the absence of directions the nurse should think what he would like to have done. When she makes a mistake, it should be confessed at the first opportunity; the physician will always be found very kind; but if mistakes are left for him to find out, he will naturally lose confidence in his nurse.”

“A nurse should always wear her cap; it is her badge of authority.”