The History of Public Health and Nursing

Sue Barton, Student Nurse by Helen Dore Boylston

Sue Barton, the Student Nurse by Helen Dore Boylston, is the very first book in the seven-part series. It was published in 1936. Therefore, the story plot refers to such a period of nursing development when the interconnection between a graduate nurse and the patients was ensured not by hospitals but various duty register systems. These systems were often run by nurses that aspired to deliver more services to the local communities.

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Generally speaking, the 1930s is the period when the importance of nursing began to increase. It could be particularly viewed in the USA where the Great Depression and the related problems turned a preventative nurse into a paramount specialist. In the meantime, the novel does not target to provide a detailed portrait of the relevant period; hence, the depiction might appear to be inaccurate – the students evidently enjoy more freedom than they would do in reality.

As long as Sue Barton’s studies comprise psychiatric nursing, a significant part of the narration is devoted to the patients’ description. According to the book’s author, Helen Dore Boylston, all the incidents elucidated in the novel are based on real-life facts (Philips, 1999). Indeed, some episodes look particularly realistic such as the depiction of a patient that wants to commit suicide. In the meantime, it is evident that such episodes target to add the spirit of adventure and tension. The author leaves out “the ugly side” of the psychiatric department routine as the target audience is composed of children and young adults.

On the whole, the book represents a fine blend of the exciting fiction and the true-to-life nursing practice. The latter is depicted in an attractive manner; thus, the book can inspire young girls to follow in the footsteps of Sue Barton.

Cherry Ames, Rural Nurse by Helen Wells

Cherry Ames, Rural Nurse by Helen Wells, is another book published within a famous series. The plotline is focused on Cherry Ames’s adventures in Iowa where she takes the position of a rural nurse (Wells, 2009). The main plotline is Ames’s collaboration with the local authorities targeted to stop the manufacturing of poisonous remedies.

The book was published in 1961. In the framework of the nursing context, this historic period is characterized by two important events. First and foremost, the 1960s marked the reorganization of the US Public Health Service aimed at improving service quality. Secondly, the nursing community first proposed to consider the baccalaureate degree to be the educational basics of the nursing practice. Meanwhile, these two events are not reflected in the book as its main aim is to entertain young readers. For this reason, the book is mainly focused on the adventures and mysteries that Cherry Ames faces.

Generally speaking, the book describes what is now called “social change.” Hence, the main character tries to improve the life of the local community and employs her professional and personal skills to communicate her ideas to the authorities. The book’s author, Helen Wells, leaves out a lot of real-life elements. Hence, for instance, her character, Cherry uses only one tool to implement the change – persuasion. Such elements as the preceding research and project proposal are naturally omitted.

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Therefore, the book fails to provide a clear idea of the nursing practice. The latter is used as the background, while the main plotline is poorly related to nursing.

Reference List

Philips, D. (1999). Healthy Heroines: Sue Barton, Lillian Wald, Lavinia Lloyd Dock and the Henry Street Settlement. Journal of American Studies, 33(1), 65-82.

Wells, H. (2009). Cherry Ames, Rural Nurse. New York, New York: Springer Publishing.

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