The gradual transition from unqualified attendant to the trained psychiatric nurse of the present day was described in detail by Walk. A key turning point in this story occurred at the Quarterly Meeting of the Medico-Psychological Association in Edinburgh on 16 November 1883, when Dr A. Campbell Clark, Medical Superintendent of the Glasgow District Asylum, read a paper entitled ‘The special training of asylum attendants'. This paper was published in the Journal of Mental Science in January 1884. Whilst attention had been given by many other asylum doctors to the training of attendants, Clark's experience of organizing attendant training courses and his firm recommendations opened the way to practical steps which set training on a new footing. Clark acknowledged the work of Dr T. S. Clouston, Physician Superintendent of the Royal Edinburgh Asylum, who read a paper to the annual meeting of the Association in 1876 entitled ‘On the question of getting, training, and retaining the services of good asylum attendants'. This paper aroused a good deal of interest amongst members of the Association, and a small committee was formed to report ‘on the advisability of the formation of an association or registry of attendants in connection with this Association and the best manner of carrying it into effect’. However, there is no record of any report by this committee.
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