Author of " Every Way of Earning a Living-" " Our Sons and Daughters" etc.
he word "nursing" covers a multitude of benefits to humanity. There is the hospital nurse, the private nurse - a hospital nurse working on her own account - the colonial nurse, and the Queen Alexandra Imperial nurse. Then last, but by no means least, there is the young lady into whose care mothers place their children - the nursery nurse.
With such wide scope the profession attracts many thousands of young women who have to earn a living; but the breadth of the field of labour is not the only attraction, for the nurse's garb is the sign-manual of honour, nobility, human kindness, and patience under the most harassing and trying circumstances. In short, the nurse's uniform commands, as it should do, the greatest respect wherever it is seen, for the world knows that it is the home of the kindest hearts.
It is impossible in the space of this article to deal with all the branches of nursing, and for the present we shall devote our attention to the hospital and other sick nurses, leaving other branches for future consideration. The young woman who wishes to adopt this profession, and to stay in a hospital until she reaches the highest grade, should choose an institution containing over a hundred beds, because the experience will be wider, the possibilities of promotion greater, and the certificate obtainable of more value than any other in the profession.
This branch of the profession is not one which can be entered by girls, for at the large general hospitals the lower age limit is twenty-two or over. In many cottage hospitals throughout the country, however, the age for entry is not so high, so that a young girl may begin her training at, say, nineteen, and after spending three or four years there may leave to enter herself as a probationer at one of the big general hospitals.
From inquiries which she may make locally, any candidate for this profession may discover the nearest available cottage hospital, and, having done that, she has only to write a letter of application for a vacancy as a probationer to the matron to get the
Woman's Work fullest information applicable to her case. In the reply she will be told the lowest age at which she may enter, and other information which will enable her to place her foot upon the bottom rung of the ladder that leads to the noblest of all human service.
As Every Woman's Encyclopedia is read not only in towns, but also in villages and country places far removed from any centre containing a big general hospital, it will be advantageous, before considering the conditions of service in the general hospitals, to refer to the Cottage Benefit Nursing Association.
This association (head office, Denison House, Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, S.w .) trains young women for appointment as nurses to visit the sick in the homes of labourers, artisans, small farmers, tradespeople, and others. An important consideration for young women living outside of towns is the fact that the association prefers country women to town women.
On applying to the secretary at the above address, the candidate will be asked to fill in an application form containing questions as to age, education, eyesight, hearing, health, and character. Details will have to be given as to previous employment, and the names of two ladies must be added as references, together with the name and address of a doctor who is acquainted with the applicant. If accepted as a probationer cottage nurse, she will be expected to take whatever course of training is considered necessary to fit her for her work. This training being given free by the nursing association, she must sign an agreement to serve the Association for three and a half or four years, according to the period of training received.
No wages are given during training, but probationers are placed in a situation as soon as the training is completed, when they receive wages as follows: 16 a year for the first year, £18 a year for the second year, and an addition of £2 a year for each year of service until /30 a year is paid. In addition, a bonus is given when the engagement is satisfactorily completed.
A legal contract is signed before framing begins, and a probationer discharged for inefficiency or misconduct is liable to repay to the association a sum of money varying from 12 to £24, according to the cost and length of training she has received.
The Cottage Nursing Association prefers country women because the work lies in cottage homes, and, in addition to a high degree of skilled nursing, the cottage nurse must be prepared to perform any domestic duty necessary whilst in charge of her patient.
A view along one of the wards of the London Hospital
The age of entry in a large general hospital is from twenty-two or twenty-three years of age up to thirty or thirty-five, and candidates of the required physical fitness may enter either as paying or non-pa y ing probationers. Those who enter as paying probationers usually do so for a term of three months, paying 13 13s. in advance, the period of training being renewable at the same fee from time to time until the probationer has completed her studies.
A non - paying probationer, on the other hand, usually enters for a month on trial, and if at the end of that time, in addition to being approved of by the matron, she is still desirous of entering the profession, a definite agreement is entered into for a term of service varying from two to four years.
The conditions vary slightly at different institutions. Applicants desirous of entering the London Hospital, for instance, are required to fill in a form - which will be forwarded to them on applying by letter to the Matron, the London Hospital, White-chapel, London, E.) - giving information very similar to that asked of applicants to the Cottage Nursing Association. If approved, the probationer enters a hospital, which has over 900 beds and a nursing staff of upwards of 600, to spend seven weeks at a preliminary training home, after which she will enter for two years' training and two years' service.
Training is free, and regular probationers are paid £12 the first year and 20 the second. On becoming a staff nurse the salary is £24, rising to £27 by annual increments of £I. Sisters are paid 30 to 40, and private nurses 40 to 45. After six years' service a nurse's salary is increased by 5, and after twelve years a second £5 is added. After eighteen years' service, and at the minimum age of forty-five, all members of the London Hospital nursing staff are eligible for a pension.
Probationers are entitled to three holidays of a fortnight each during their two years' training, with a full month's leave without payment at the end, before actually joining the permanent staff.
At the Royal Waterloo Children's Hospital, London, S.e., a probationer, if approved after a month's trial, undertakes to remain for three years. The salary for the first year is 5, for the second 12, and for the third year 18.
Every hospital has some regulation peculiar to itself, but the most important conditions set out above apply generally. A request written by any applicant to the matron of any hospital for particulars will bring, almost by return of post, fullest information. Applicants living out of London, who are in doubt as to which hospital they would like to enter, should consult the Hospital Library and Charities Bureau, of 28 and 29, Southampton Street, London, to whom letters containing questions as to hospitals in any part of the country may be addressed. A fee of 2s. 6d. is charged for each complete inquiry. Apart from this, the applicant will find a Directory of Hospitals in almost any public library.
A young woman who adopts nursing as her profession enters upon a field of labour where hard work under most trying conditions is the order of the day, but this fact will not deter her if she loves the work. Moreover, the hospital nurse who secures a certificate from a large general hospital has opened the door to a varied and profitable career. She may become a health visitor under a municipal body, or she may take up private nursing on her own account, and earn good money if supported by one or two medical men.
Again, a nurse, after completing her training at one of the large hospitals, may apply successfully for a vacancy in a higher grade at another.
Whichever way she turns she has good prospects, and will, at any rate, be regarded as a member of one of the highest and noblest professions.
Other branches of nursing will be dealt with under this section in Part 3 of Every Woman's