Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ethics for nursing, old school style

This being a certain type of institution (scientific in the main), we don't have a lot of books that carry an imprimatur, so I was delighted to see the license page on this latest addition to the historical collections, James M. Brogan's Ethical principles for the character of a nurse (Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing Co., 1924):

Brogan, who was president of Gonzaga University when he authored this small work, might have lost a few of his target readers with his statement in the Preface that, when originally asked to write a work for nurses, he "was then working strenuously to impart Ethics to some minds that were more developed than those of nurses." Although, maybe it read better in the 1920s.

In any case, the book is full of good and useful advice on the proper conduct of the nurse in particular and the ethical actor in general. Consider this nugget:
Right order in her labors would put the necessary first, and after that, the useful and pleasant. She should not be afraid of work, but study continually, and keep her mind bright. For her leisure she should choose her reading with a purpose, and keep active. It is better to wear out honorably in noble and useful labor than to rust out in ignoble idleness.
Or, as Neil Young put it when riffing on Brogan: "It's better to burn out than to fade away."

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