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Lillian Wald Contribution to the Healthcare System Essay (Critical Writing)

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How did the public consciousness influence Wald’s projects and the future of public health nursing?

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Even though Lillian Wald is often referred to as a visionary whose contribution to the radical change of the health care system of the U.S cannot be overstated, it is necessary to recognize that it would not be possible without cultural ethos and the Progressive reform of the beginning of the twentieth century. Public consciousness of that time directed the development of the most important Wald’s projects: “the invention of public health nursing itself, the establishment of a nationwide system of insurance payments for home-based care, and the creation of a national public health nursing service” (Buhler-Wilkerson 1778). The reinvigoration of the future of public health care nursing is only possible when the role of a public nurse envisioned by Wald is built on the principles of social welfare, motherhood, and public (Buhler-Wilkerson 1778). The paradigm shift of the medical system was not supported by the public at large whose consciousness was predominated with an image of a nurse as a mother figure. Therefore, to uplift nursing practice from the local level and expand it further, changing the health industry along the way, Wald had to reform both public opinion and the medical establishment (Reverby 1663).

Describe Wald’s narrative – how does she relate the story of the Settlement?

The following canons of rhetoric are used as a framework for the analysis of The House on Henry Street: imagination, memory, style, and arrangement. For the rhetorical canon called imagination, it is clear that both conventional wisdom of Wald’s era and her personal experience provided her with materials necessary to build the core of the book. The same can be said about the canon of memory. It could be argued that by using simple style the author wants to appeal to a wide audience interested in both social and political change. Moreover, by resorting to language such as “unfailing goodness of the poor” (Wald 18) while telling a story of an impoverished family of the Scotch-Irish cobbler, she aims to imbue a reader with the sense of communal support which was so common to urban areas mired in misery. Therefore, there is no surprise that she makes numerous appeals to emotion throughout the book in an attempt to campaign not only for minds but also for the hearts of her audience (Wald 25). For the arrangement, Wald manages to neatly combine all elements of the narration making her arguments extremely persuasive.

Consider Logos, Ethos, and Pathos. Does Wald make a persuasive appeal?

Wald skillfully employs ethos by retaining the sincere and fair-minded presentation of her arguments, throughout the book. By using phrases such as “we had many experiences with them,” “all our experience,” and referring to her “cumulative knowledge” (Wald 157), she manages to convince her readers that she possesses credentials necessary to tell the story. On the level of logos, Wald uses her knowledge of statistics to support her arguments (Wald 159). Specifically, she points to the changes in New York legislation in an attempt to convince her audience of the necessity of creating government bodies providing a regulatory framework for child labor. However, it can be argued that her appeal is persuasive because of the use of pathos as the main mode of persuasion in The House on Henry Street. The use of gender-specific language is evident when she expresses her sympathy for women who have to work in the manufacturing industry (Wald 158). The simple style of narration along with passionate delivery makes her case stronger.

Works Cited

Buhler-Wilkerson, Karen. “Bringing Care to the People: Lillian Wald’s Legacy to Public Health Nursing.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 83, no. 12, 1993, pp. 1778-1786.

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Reverby, Susan. “From Lillian Wald to Hillary Rodham Clinton: What will Happen to Public Health Nursing?” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 83, no. 12, 1993, pp. 1662-1663.

Wald, Lillian. The House on Henry Street. Henry Holt and Company, 1938.

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