The concept of nursing*


  • *

    This paper was read as the 3rd Battersea Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Association of Integrated and Degree Courses in Nursing (AIDCN), and delivered at the Nightingale School, St. Thomas' Hospital, London, on 4 November, 1977.


The author contends that with the acceptance of health care as a universal human right has come a variety of national, provincial, state, and local systems for providing health care. An international network of rapid communications makes peoples everywhere aware of the variety of systems and the fact that some systems other than their own show better results, as measured by, for example, the infant mortality rate, or the incidence of venereal disease. Traditional roles for doctors, nurses, health educators, social workers and others are in question.

To meet the needs of the people, health educators, physicians, social workers, nurses and all other categories of health personnel must constantly evaluate their roles and be ready to modify them for the common good and modify the programmes that prepare them for their work. While the roles of doctors, nurses and others are, necessarily, in these rapidly changing times, in · a fluid state, some health workers must provide a 24-hour service that helps human beings with their essential daily activities when they lack the strength, knowledge, or will, to carry them out unaided and to work towards the development of a healthy independence. This intimate and essential service is, in the author's opinion, the universal element in the concept of nursing.

The most successful preparation of nurses will, the author argues, always include whatever gives them the broadest possible understanding of humanity and the world in which they live. It will also provide an opportunity to see expert nursing care given and to have the satisfaction of seeing the care they themselves give, hasten a person's recovery, help a person cope with a handicap, or die in peace when death is inevitable.