The Nurse Of The Future

The student of life and of the sciences which deal with the origin and

development of the human race, and with the relations of man to man and

nation to nation--such sciences as biology and anthropology, sociology

and ethics and history--comes to the conclusion that life exists for the

development of mind. And mind is not merely intellect, but the only

gateway we know to character, to soul. The deepest students of human

science see no reason for life except as it "evolves" a perfect

mind--man's goal, his ideal. And this visioned perfect mind is one

which adjusts itself without friction to the body, making it fulfil the

laws of health that it may help and not hinder mind's progress; one

which adjusts itself to people and things, co-operating with other minds

to develop manners and customs and laws of the most satisfactory

community living; one which forces things to be servants of its will;

one which makes harmony of life by fulfilling the laws of the soul as

well as of the intellect and of the body.

If we believe that life exists for the development of mind into a force

of intellect and character and soul, then we need not ask why a nurse

should know something of the laws of mind. She does not ask why she

should know anatomy or pathology. Her work is dependent upon such

knowledge. But if the center of life, the thing which makes the body a

living, moving, acting agent instead of a clod, is mind; if the one

thing which makes a difference between animal life and mineral and

vegetable life is consciousness, i. e., mind; and if everything that

affects that body, its organ, affects mind also--then surely no nurse

can afford to learn only the rules of repair or of keeping in order the

instrument of consciousness, without knowing what effect her efforts

have on the mind itself. It is as though an ignorant maid accepted a

piano as merely a piece of furniture to be kept clean and shining, and

in her zeal to that end scrubbed the keyboard with soap and water which,

dripping down into the body of the instrument, swells and damages its

felts, rusts and corrodes its keys, and ruins its notes. When she knows

that she may thus make impossible the beautiful sounds she has heard it

give, and that the more carefully the keyboard is handled the more sure

is the beauty resulting, her care is to keep it as free as possible of

dust, to see that the top is down and the keyboard covered when she

sweeps--and to clean it hereafter in such a way as to never injure its


The nurse has a much greater function than merely to help in saving the

body and keeping its machinery in order. If the aim of life is the

strengthening and perfecting of the mind--that "urge" of life, then

surely the nurse's big aim will be to help establish such health of body

as leads toward health of mind. In the average man or woman this vital

urge becomes temporarily blocked by the very weakness of the body it

urges. The body must give the life-flame some fuel, or it dies out;

but with very little fuel it flickers on, waiting, hoping for the more

that it may burn strongly again. In the cases the nurse handles very

often the "vital spark" has been poorly fed by the disabled body, and so

discouragement or depression, or "loss of grip" results, or the flame

continues to shine brightly with whatever little sustenance it receives,

and so encourages the body to greater effort for it; or sinks into

embers, glowing steadily though dully; or it burns wildly,

recklessly--it becomes what we call "wild fire," that has no direction

and no purpose save to burn up everything it can find.

In other words, the nurse deals with those in whom the "urge" is

weakened--the depressed and discouraged; with those whose spirits never

flag in their steady shining--those brave souls we could almost worship;

and those others who hold grimly on with quiet grit and courage, but

with no cheer; and with the unstable ones of neuropathic or psychopathic

tendency who become hysteric or maniacal.

What will the nurse do for them all? Will not an understanding of how to

recall the ambition to live, the will to get well, and the grit to see

the thing through, be an incalculable asset.