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The Nurse as a Moral Missionary

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: July 2016 - Volume 116 - Issue 7 - p 66-68
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000484945.09089.22
From the AJN Archives: PDF Only

Editor's note: From its first issue in 1900 through to the present day, AJN has unparalleled archives detailing nurses’ work and lives over the last century. These articles not only chronicle nursing's growth as a profession within the context of the events of the day, but they also reveal prevailing societal attitudes about women, health care, and human rights. Today's nursing school curricula rarely include nursing's history, but it's a history worth knowing. To this end, From the AJN Archives will be a frequent column, containing articles selected to fit today's topics and times.

This month's article, from the December 1912 issue, shares a nurse's struggles with the limitations of her role (and with the “morals” of the household) while caring for a seriously ill toddler. Her nursing assessment points to a diagnosis that is ultimately proven accurate, but her concerns are brushed off by the attending physician, delaying the child's treatment. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that this nurse is grappling with “moral distress” of a kind still encountered in health care today. In this issue, Cynda Hylton Rushton and colleagues offer a new perspective on these dilemmas in “Moral Distress: A Catalyst in Building Moral Resilience.”

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