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The qualities of a nurse


What makes a nurse? From the historic nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale to the fictional and terrifying Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, nurses have played an important role in society. With the lives of their patients in their hands, acting as a health front line, nurses can bring out a gamut of emotions in their charges.

On this date in 1959, the Morton County News noted that applications for the Bismarck Hospital School of Nursing would be accepting a new class in August for a three-year nursing program.

The application process sought the ideal applicants. The newspaper said that the students who applied would "feel a genuine calling for the profession, [would be] students who seek satisfaction from their work, who naturally like people and who may be attracted by the medical brand of excitement, plus financial security and wholesome social life."

These students also needed to place in the upper third of their graduating class, pass some physical health and aptitude requirements, and be at least 17 1/2 by September. The applicants would likely be populated primarily by women, but men were also welcome to apply. Despite the fact that males are in the minority in nursing practices – men have been long involved with nursing. Even poet Walt Whitman worked as a volunteer nurse during the Civil War.

The final characteristic, and a very important one to the powers that be at the Bismarck Hospital School of Nursing, was that it was each entrant's decision to enter the field, and not that of his or her parents.

Mrs. Will, director of the School of Nursing, said she wanted the applicants to realize they were entering into "an intensive three years of study, training and work," with their first obligation to the patients and hospital. There would be drama, not the fictionalized kind, but one wrought with constant and unknown changes and other factors.

Despite this, Mrs. Will said, "There's no profession which can be so rewarding."

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


The Morton County News, Thursday, April 9, 1959