The Conference Nurse

The Conference Nurse—No. 2

Personal qualifications are of the greatest importance.

By MARY COLBY MONTEITH, R. N., Professor of Nursing Education, Pacific Union College

Personal qualifications are of the greatest importance. We agree with the thought that "the public-health nurse working alone needs to have. . . a special aptitude for working with lay and professional groups." (See "Minimum Qualifications," in Article I, October Ministry.) Lawrence Averill, in "Mental Hy­giene for the Classroom Teacher," discussing contributing factors in the happiness of the teacher, states that a feeling of fitness for her task and a belief in and commitment to the task are chief factors. The same would apply to the work of the nurse. She must feel that she is at least fairly well fitted to undertake her work, and she must believe absolutely in the opportu­nity of service which the task presents to her.

The whole discussion is well summarized in the following quotation:

"The work of a conference nurse compares favor­ably with the work of a county public-health nurse. She must be as well prepared scientifically- and edu­cationally as is the public-health nurse, and in addi­tion have that spiritual vision and discernment which will enable her to make her work of promoting health an integral part of the third angel's message. She must, as does the county nurse, know how to appeal to all classes of people, and also how to present the same health message in different settings to meet the minds of little children in church schools and of youthful missionary volunteers. She must know how to appeal to the older class of home missionaries, and to groups of educators, as well as to those not of our faith.

"She must have such a command of her subject and such vision of its possibilities, that obstacles, disap­pointment, and a lack of appreciation of her work will only spur her on with renewed zeal 'to make known the quality of her product.' She must know, too, how to co-operate with other departments in the confer­ence, strengthening them by feedings with the 'right arm of the third angel's message.' To do this, the conference nurse must not only have the preparation in training, but must keep abreast with the work of great men and women in public-health research work, always weighing any doubtful conclusion in that tried and tested laboratory, 'To the law and to the testimony ; if they speak not according to this,' there is no light in it."—"Setting to Work as a Conference Nurse,' p. 4.

As the nurse anticipates her work, she should keep in mind clear definitions of such terms as "health," "health education," and "school health education." Health must not be consid­ered as a narrow concept. C. E. Turner has stated it:

"Health is the normal functioning of all parts of the body, but most people have divided the sick from the well according to whether the body is horizontal or perpendicular to the surface of the earth.                  . 

Health is much more than merely not being 'sick in bed.' Normal functioning of all parts of the body means joyousness, cheerfulness, and efficiency, as well as the ability to do a full day's work without more than healthful fatigue. It means courage and en­thusiasm for life. We need to build into our defini­tion for health these ideals which we express by the term 'complete physical fitness.' "—Bauer and Hull, "Health Education of the Public," p. 22.

The National Education Association defines health education and school health education as follows:

"Health education is the sum of experience which favorably influences habits, attitudes, and knowledge relating to individual, community, and racial health. School health education is that part of health educa­tion that takes place in school or through efforts organized and conducted by school personnel."—Joint Committee on Health, "Health Education," p.

Fourfold Aim of Health Education

Since all the work of the conference nurse may well be considered as health education in its broad sense, she would do well to remember the aims of health education:

"1. To instruct children and youth so that they may conserve and improve their own health.

"2. To establish in them the habits and principles of living which throughout their school life and in later years will aid in providing that abundant vigor and vitality which are a foundation for the greatest possible happiness and service in personal, family, and community life.

"3. To promote satisfactory habits and attitudes among parents and adults through parent and adult education, and through the health education program for children, so that the school may become an effec­tive agency for the advancement of the social aspects of health education in the family and in the com­munity as well as in the school itself.

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By MARY COLBY MONTEITH, R. N., Professor of Nursing Education, Pacific Union College

November 1942

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