private duty nursing
private duty nursing
Private duty nursing
Private duty nursing was the hiring of nurses to provide care to individual patients. Patients might hire their own nurse to look after them at home or at the hospital. Patients paid the nurse in cash for her services, depending on a set charge. Only one patient was tended to at a time by the nurse, who was usually hired for the duration of an illness. In essence, the private duty nurse provided highly personalized care to paying patients for as long as they required it and could afford it.
Why a Private Nursing Care Delivery System?
- The private duty nurse system followed in the footsteps of earlier nineteenth-century nursing care delivery models. When illness struck a family in nineteenth-century America, it was common for those who could afford it to engage a nurse to care for the ailing member.
- Employing a nurse freed patients’ relatives of much of the weight of what was sometimes a time-consuming and exhausting task: monitoring the patient, administering treatments, and remaining present at all times. Prior to the availability of trained nurses, many families hired their own nurses, much like they hired their own domestic staff or even their own physicians.
- The founders of the late-nineteenth-century professional nursing schools hoped that their graduates would continue the tradition of providing private home care. Indeed, one of the main goals of the early nursing schools was to prepare students to enter the private nursing market, both to spread the benefits of professionally trained nurses, which proponents of training schools believed were becoming increasingly important to patient care and to provide a respectable and financially rewarding occupation for young women.
What Was It Like to Be on Private Duty?
- A nurse who wanted to work as a private duty nurse first had to advertise her availability. In small towns, this could mean simply notifying her neighbors or the local doctor or druggist that she was available for work—the equivalent of “putting out a shingle.” A more intricate system developed in large towns and cities, which entailed establishing a private-duty-nurse infrastructure to connect patients with nurses and nurses with patients.
- The private duty registry formed the foundation of this system. Private duty registries were third-party organizations that brought patients and nurses together in times of need. A nurse “registered with” a registry by identifying her availability and the types of patients she would accept. Patients who needed a nurse notified the register, which dispatched an appropriate nurse to the patient.
- Commercial agencies, which placed nurses with patients for a profit and operated in major cities across the United States, and physician-run nurse registries, which benefited local medical societies, were two examples of private duty registers. The most popular sort of registry, however, was run by hospitals.