Association Of Ideas

After the first few years of life practically nothing enters

consciousness that cannot by some likeness or contrast or kinship be

connected with something already there. Were it not for this saving

economy memory would be helpless. So the nurse who is in earnest and

eager to master her new work will not only perceive carefully each

detail of arrangement, but in two or three days at most will know each

patient there; sh
will have worked out a system of associations,

remembering not a meaningless name, but an individual with certain

characteristics which she ties up with her name, and so gives it a

definite personality. She thereafter recalls not merely a patient, but a

very special patient; and as she comes to mind she brings a title with

her, which is her symbol. Likewise when her name is spoken or thought,

she herself comes into the nurse's immediate consciousness. A bed in a

certain part of the room will be no longer merely a bed, but

Mrs. Brown's bed. Remembering can be made easy by using some such method

as this:

The first bed to the right as you enter is Mrs. Meade's. She is the

woman with the broken hip. The next is Mrs. Blake's, that blonde, big

woman who wants more attention than any one else. The third is

Mrs. Bunting's. She has wonderful, curling black hair, and a nice

response to everything done for her. The next beyond is Mrs. O'Neil's.

She looks as Irish as her name sounds, and you will remember her by

that. So each bed comes to mean a certain patient, and each patient

comes to suggest the ones on either side of her--her neighbors.

Blondeness and bigness together call Mrs. Blake to mind. Broken hip

means Mrs. Meade, etc. Each individual on that side of the ward becomes

associated with a name which stands for definite characteristics.

Then you begin at the left bed nearest the door and follow the occupants

back on that side. You may remember better by jotting them down in

order of the beds, with names and a brief comment on each patient. Keep

that list on a small card in your pocket for reference for a day or two,

then depend on memory entirely. I have personally found this an

excellent method.

You are expected to be able to turn quickly to any medicines needed in

emergency, and you soon learn to remember them and where they are placed

by the arrangement into classes or kinds, which most hospitals require.

Cathartics are together, hypnotics together, etc. So when you want

cascara you associate it with cathartic and turn to that shelf. You

learn very soon that poison medicines are kept apart from the others,

and quickly associate the poison label with danger to patients,

necessity of locking safely away and hiding the key from any but those

responsible for the care of the sick.

Learning to look closely at the patient's face, instead of casually

glancing at her when you care for her, makes it possible for you to note

changes of expression, heightened color, dilated pupils, a trace of

strain, etc. Then try to find the exact word that will express what you

see. Such experiments in perception and attention, association and

memory, repeatedly demanded of yourself--i. e., the being able to

recall and describe in detail the room- or ward-arrangements and to

place the patients accurately, as we have just described--will prove

invaluable practice, helping you to attend to every change in your

patient's demeanor and expression, which may prove significant symptoms.

And remember that while the mind can only contain so many isolated

facts, yet there is no limit to its possibilities when the power of

association of ideas is employed.

Your first step to clear thinking is accuracy of perception, with

attention to the thing reason chooses; your second is association of the

things perceived, a grouping of them to fit in with each other, and with

what is already in the mind. And both imply the third--concentration,

aided by emotion and will. For passive attention and haphazard

associations assure the opposite of clear thinking.