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Handling the Sick is the story of 838 women who entered the St. Luke’s Hospital Training School for Nurses, St. Paul, Minnesota, from 1892 to 1937. Their story addresses a fundamental question about nursing that has yet to be answered: is nursing a craft or a profession? It also addresses the colliding visions of nursing factions that for more than a century have disagreed on the inherent traits and formal preparation a nurse has needed. The women of St. Luke’s were engaged in the most practical of all occupations open to women, a rare one in which their strength, experience, and skill were prized above all else. They firmly believed that the key to success in nursing was apprenticeship training. Apprenticeship, not schooling, was the cornerstone on which all else rested. This study unites the opposing visions of those who led nursing towards professional status and those who saw it as a craft. Physicality, strength of will, an abiding emphasis on practicality, and a hierarchy based on a deep pride in craft skills have been essential elements of nursing. Nursing can look to its complex history to develop an integrated model of nursing, one drawing on both academic training and the immediate realities involved in “handling the sick.”

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
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  1. Table of Contents
  2. p. vi
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  1. List of Illustrations
  2. p. vii
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  1. List of Tables
  2. p. viii
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  1. List of Abbreviations
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xiii-xv
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  1. 1. Introduction: The Nature of Nursing
  2. pp. 1-8
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  1. 2. First Impressions
  2. pp. 9-38
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  1. 3. Ready for Work
  2. pp. 39-58
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  1. 4. The Limits of Duty
  2. pp. 59-77
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  1. 5. Laying Claim to Caring
  2. pp. 78-94
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  1. 6. Grounds for Dismissal, Reasons to Leave
  2. pp. 95-120
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  1. 7. Lasting Impressions
  2. pp. 121-142
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  1. 8. Reclaiming the Past, Remaking the Future
  2. pp. 143-156
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 157-204
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 205-222
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 223-226
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