Walt Whitman: Civil War nurse
Dr. Susan LaRocco is Dean and Professor of the School of Nursing at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh NY. She became a nursing educator after many years in a variety of leadership positions in hospitals in Boston, New York, and Connecticut. She has published extensively, including in the American Journal of Nursing, Journal of Clinical Nursing, and Nursing Management. In 2014, she was inducted as a Fellow in the National Academies of Practice. Dr LaRocco spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in the Middle East, teaching doctoral students at the University of Jordan in Amman. Her major research interest is men in nursing, in particular the graduates of the Alexian Brothers Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago, the last all-male school of nursing.
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Walt Whitman’s life as a nurse during the Civil War is largely ignored in the nursing literature. His service to wounded and dying soldiers, as well as his poetry about the horrors of war, deserves recognition.
The Civil War (1861-1865) resulted in more than 600,000 casualties. Many of these men died a horrible death, lacking the basics such as clean dressings, adequate food and even minimal pain relief. Thousands more were wounded and survived, in part because of the care provided by recovering soldiers and the untrained volunteer nurses. Walt Whitman was one of these nurses.
In early 1863 Whitman was appointed to the U.S. Christian Commission, a voluntary organization that focused on physical and spiritual service to the wounded. Employed at this time as a part time clerk in the Army’s Paymaster Office, he used his free time to care for wounded men in the tent hospitals springing up throughout Washington, DC. In addition to physical care, he demonstrates his concern for the psychosocial wellbeing of his patients by writing letters home and listening to the frightened young men. These experiences are shared in his letters, his notebooks and his poetry, in a section of Leaves of Grass (1865) entitled Drum Taps. Whitman’s understanding of nursing presence is evidenced by his comment “I found it was the simple matter of personal presence, and emanating ordinary good cheer and magnetism, that I succeeded…more than by medical nursing, or delicacies, or gifts of money, or anything else.” However, “The Dresser” describes in detail the physical care that he administered.
Bearing the bandages, water and sponge, Straight and swift to my wounded I go…
From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand, I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood…
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Civil War Nursing;
Poetry About Nursing
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LaRocco, Susan A.In 1956, the Alexian Brothers Hospital School of Nursing (ABHSoN), an all-male school housed in an all-male hospital, received a letter from a graduate stating that he was denied reciprocity in the State of Michigan for a ...
Becoming a nurse: Continuing the story of the Alexian Brothers Hospital School of Nursing graduates LaRocco, Susan A.The Alexian Brothers Hospital (ABH) School of Nursing in Chicago, founded in 1898, was the fifth all male nursing school in the United States. Research Question: The aim of this study is to present the oral histories of ...
LaRocco, Susan A.; Saleh, Mohammad Y. N.; AlAshram, Safa A. (2018-06-14)Jordanian male nurses' motivations to choose nursing and their satisfaction with their career were explored using focus groups. Data indicated that the male nurses were satisfied with their nursing careers. They viewed ...
LaRocco, Susan A. (2016-03-21)Session presented on Saturday, November 7, 2015: In Jordan there are 15 universities that award a baccalaureate degree in nursing. One of the largest nursing programs is at the University of Jordan (UJ) in the capital, ...
LaRocco, Susan A.The American Journal of Nursing (AJN) has been published continuously since 1900. As such, it provides a unique opportunity to analyze the social issues that have surrounded nursing as well as the professional issues that ...