Medicine: Rebellion Among the Angels

Nurses are no longer content to be the doctor's handmaiden

Once, they evoked images of quiet docility: woman in white, sister of mercy, ministering angel. Walking softly through hospital corridors, tending to the ill and infirm, nurses did every duty from cleaning bedpans to assisting in surgery. They performed wearying, thankless tasks with such uncomplaining efficiency that doctors and patients alike could consider them the physician's handmaidens.

Not any more. Today the angels are in rebellion. Better educated, stirred by the feminist movement and caught up in the medical advances of the past generation,...

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