There are wonderful nurses throughout history that have made changes that have benefited us all. Dorothea Dix is one of my favorite historical nurses.
Born in Hampden, Maine, in 1802, Dorothea Dix was a social reformer whose devotion to the welfare of the mentally ill led to widespread international reforms. After seeing horrific conditions in a Massachusetts prison, she spent the next 40 years lobbying U.S. and Canadian legislators to establish state hospitals for the mentally ill. Her efforts directly affected the building of 32 institutions in the United States.
Here are two I worked in as a mental health tech.
My first job as a Mental Health Tech.
It was a good idea to let the Mentally ill be separate from those who are in jail. Unfortunately, what happened next is not a pretty story leading up to the emptying of state hospital and now we are back to where she is now where people cannot get good mental health care and many people end up in jail instead of treatment where they belong.
The following is a document written by Dorothea Dix to lay out the requirements for women who would work in the nursing service for the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Circular No. 8., by Dorothea Dix
Washington, D. C., July 14, 1862,
No candidate for service in the Women’s Department for nursing in the Military Hospitals of the United States, will be received below the age of thirty-five years, nor above fifty.
Only women of strong health, not subjects of chronic disease, nor liable to sudden illnesses, need apply. The duties of the station make large and continued demands on strength.
Matronly persons of experience, good conduct, or superior education and serious disposition, will always have preference; habits of neatness, order, sobriety, and industry, are prerequisites.
All applicants must present certificates of qualification and good character from at least two persons of trust, testifying to morality, integrity, seriousness, and capacity for care of the sick.
Obedience to rules of the service, and conformity to special regulations, will be required and enforced.
Compensation, as regulated by act of Congress, forty cents a day and subsistence. Transportation furnished to and from the place of service.
Amount of luggage limited within small compass.
Dress plain, (colors brown, grey, or black,) and while connected with the service without ornaments of any sort.
No applicants accepted for less than three months service; those for longer periods always have preference.
William A. Hammond,
History of Social Reform in Nursing
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