Introducing the trained and educated gentlewoman into the wards of a children’s hospital. The role of Charles West, M.D. (1816-1898) in the rise of pediatric nursing

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Luca Borghi http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8196-0382
Anna Marchetti

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Abstract

The recent bicentenary year of Charles West (1816-1898), the well-known pioneer of pediatrics, gives us the opportunity to highlight his fundamental role in the birth and first development of pediatric nursing. His initiatives (most notably the establishment of the first pediatric hospital in London, the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children) and his ideas on nursing were often misunderstood and opposed by his contemporaries. But nowadays they appear to us very relevant and forward-looking, centered as they are on the rigorous selection and the full human and professional training of the new nurses for “sick children”. His attempt to fight classism – a social feature so deeply rooted in the Victorian era - which many people wanted to be reflected also in the organization of hospital nursing, deserves to be remembered and analyzed. Along with many other aspects of his life and works, starting with the role he played in the professional education and advancement of one of the leading figures of early pediatric nursing: Catherine Jane Wood.

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