THE HUMANISTIC TRADITION IN THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS
THE BACKGROUND OF MEDICAL ETHICS
Chauncey D. Leake
From the earliest beginnings the various health professions have obviously been concerned with the care of sick people. This means giving sympathy and tender care, gaining the confidence of the sick person, comforting and protecting him, seeing to it that he gets appropriate food and is kept clean and free from irritation and annoyance.
The earliest of the health professions was probably nursing. The nurses were presumably the older and more experienced individuals in a family or tribe who had sufficient kindliness and sympathy to take care of those who were injured in accidents or fighting, or who came down with those mysterious illnesses which we now call infectious or metabolic diseases. These nurses would gradually develop confidence in what they were doing, and would gain the respect and trust of their patients. They might have exchanged experiences and developed