The modern nursing practice is made up of a comprehensive array of specialties that share related historical events led by various famous leaders. Since time immemorial, this wonderful profession has had its fair share of various visionary leaders who identified challenges and developed solutions thereof. When discussing the history of nursing, it is common to come across names of great minds such as Lillian Wald, Dorothea Dix, Florence Wald, and Mary Breckinridge. Each of these leaders played a significant role that changed the nursing profession in a great way. However, for the purposes of this discussion, I will focus on the professional life of Dorothea Dix and her contribution to this noble discipline.
Dorothea Dix was an early 19th century activist who spearheaded drastic changes in the medical field during her lifetime. Born in 1802 in Hampden, Maine, United States, Dix grew up and lived her purpose until her death in 1887. Even though she was not formally trained as a nurse, Dix is hailed by many as one of the most prominent nurses in history, particularly considering her relentless effort to create lasting reforms in the country’s mental health system. During the Civil War, the powers that be appointed Dix as a superintended of the Union Army nursing corps where she played a significant role in the recruitment of nurses for the Union Army. The army of nurses led by Dix was tremendously successful and vital in advancing the role of nurse practitioners in the battlefield and in the medical field in general. Additionally, in the 1840s, Dix achieved her most crucial objective whose impact is felt to date. At the time, The mentally ill were treated as outcasts whereby they were locked under deplorable conditions. The despicable and inhuman treatment visited upon the mentally ill could not escape Dorothea’s mind and hence she purposed to change the situation for good. Armed with extensive knowledge about the plight of the mentally ill, Dix pleaded with the leadership of Massachusetts state to fund the first ever mental facility in the country. As expected, Dorothea did not stop there, she took her campaign to the door steps of the other states and as a result of her advocacy, many psychiatric medical facilities were built or renovated, and staffed with formally trained nurses. Clearly, this brilliant woman of substance was ahead of her time, a visionary who envisioned and brought to life a mental health system of holistic care, as opposed to imprisonment. Moreover, Dorothea is to be…
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