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University of Toronto Scarborough
Health Studies
Denis Maxwell

HLTC02 WINTER 2013 Week # 10: “Reflections on Nurse Rivers” by Darlene Clark Hine Black Women in White  “To make a difference” this was a both a slogan and an enduring motivator for black nursing professionals in order to survive  Belief that nurse should be a patient advocate  Major Motivations for black women to become nurses – parental prodding, head-on collisions with racial discrimination (?) and desire to reduce suffering  Nurses are usually the first point of contact between patients and the health care system within southern communities, their responsibility to shape and lay a solid foundation for future medical professional – client relationship  Requirements: broad sympathies, profound understanding and tact and possess the requisite professional background  Focus of article – the experiences of Nurse Rivers who had been recently hired at the Alabama’s Macon County Moveable School, she trained at the Tuskegee Institute o Duty: Teach rural tenant farmer families basics o Then became nurse at Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment in Macon County, Alabama  Very strategic and successful as a nurse gaining the confidence and trust of local rural Black farmers and their families - used patience, respect and admiration to serve the people in the community  Convinced men to participate in the syphilis experiment, longer than they should have.  She felt experiment was good and honorable though  Rivers enjoyed being the go between doctor and patient and being a patient advocate  Her relationship with white health care professionals and black community is questionable as many black men would not have been participating in this study as long as they should have especially given the detrimental and ethically bankrupt nature of it  Their unquestioning faith in Rivers prompted them to continue because they believed she had their best interests at heart – she did but she was woefully mistook the detrimental impact of a such study where treatment was consciously withheld from patients  River’s motives are complex o Perhaps she thought at least some blacks received unpatrolled amount of attention from medical community o She was trained to follow orders – it probably didn’t come to her t
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