4. Is the Nurse Necessary in Modern Paediatrics? – Florence Erickson, Ph.D – 1964

Florence Ericson, Ph.D, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing

Excerpts from an article that appeared in “Alumnae News” December 1964

Dr Erickson was speaking at a conference in 1964 on the role of nursing in the care of sick children.  Only a little of her speech is highlighted here, enough to give a flavor of changes that were beginning to occur in the role of nurses and would continue to evolve into what we now refer to as family centered care.

“One has only to look at the program for this conference to be aware of the tremendous advances the medical profession has made in saving the lives of children.  Accurate and early diagnoses, intricate surgical procedures, safe anaesthesia, fluid therapy, and the like have made it possible to deal with anomalies and illnesses which in years past have been virtually untreatable.

Modern paediatric care goes beyond keeping children alive or restoring their bodies and is concerned with the total effects of the illness experience on the child’s physical, social, and psychological development.  Psychiatry has shown that what happens to us as children, how adequately we learn to cope with the stresses of life determines largely our concept of self and our capacity to function in an adult world.  If we believe that children are the hope of the future then as adults we must be concerned with helping children to grow up unhampered by needless fears and phobias.

It takes more than the medical profession to do the job…………..As a nurse and nurse educator I am concerned with the role of nursing in modern paediatrics …..

………In summary, modern paediatric care makes many demands on the nurse.  It means she must be prepared in all aspects of child development to be able to detect deviations from the normal.  She must be skilled in how children cope with stress and able to reduce a crisis into stress with which the child can cope.  She must be able to communicate with children of every age as well as with parents, doctors, social workers, therapists, and administrative personnel.  She is in a sense the protector of the child, who knows him well and is therefore able to interpret for him how he sees the illness, when he has had too much, what his fears and fantasies are at the moment.  It is a large order.  Some of it is already being accomplished, the rest will come to pass as nursing raises its own sights and demonstrates that it can contribute to paediatric care.”