Estrid Rodhe was a nurse, an author, and an editor. Her work entitled Ur sjukvårdens etik gained an international readership and plays an integral part in training nurses in many countries.
Estrid Rodhe was born in Lund. She was the daughter of Edvard Herman Rodhe, who was both a bishop and a parliamentarian, and his wife Elisabeth Charlotta Bruhn. The family moved to Gothenburg when Edvard Rodhe was appointed bishop of Gothenburg diocese.
Estrid Rodhe was educated at the Wilhelmina Löfholm girls’ school in Norrköping and at the Mathilda Hall girls’ school in Gothenburg. She then began to train as a nurse at the Sahlgrenska hospital in Gothenburg in 1897. She gained her nursing qualifications at the Sabbatsberg hospital in Stockholm in 1900. Following a probationary period at the Falkenberg infirmary and at the Halmstad hospital she became employed as section nurse at the women’s surgical department at the Sahlgrenska hospital in 1901 where she remained until 1908.
Estrid Rodhe had an aptitude for writing and she published both lyrical and prose works in publications such as Idun and Stockholms veckoblad. She was asked to become the editor of the Svensk sjukskötersketidning journal following its establishment in 1909. She was also involved in setting up Svensk Sjuksköterskeförening (SSF; the association of Swedish nurses) in 1910 and served as that organisation’s first secretary from 1910–1911. Initially this was a non-profit career association which espoused strictly ethical goals and set high entrance requirements.
Estrid Rodhe was multi-lingual and undertook several study trips to Europe. She was a Swedish representative at the international nursing conference held in London in 1909. In 1910 she was awarded a stipend from Fredrika-Bremer-Förbundet (association) which enabled her to research healthcare in rural Sweden. Although she had gathered material during visits to the archipelago and to Norrland she was not able to compile it before her death.
Estrid Rodhe, who was deeply religious, had an idealistic view of the professional role of the nurse and she herself represented the ideal nurse to those who continued the organisation’s aims after her passing. Estrid Rodhe’s personality and her views are articulately expressed in her posthumously published work, Ur sjukvårdens etik released in 1912. This work was a compilation of articles which she had written for Svensk sjukskötersketidning. It was used for many years in both Swedish and foreign training-courses for nurse. The tenth edition was released in 1950.
One of the issues raised by Estrid Rodhe is the role of the nurse in a patient’s life while she also placed high demands on nurses in terms of their own lives and their profession. She clearly differentiated between a career and a calling, as the latter required personal qualifications. The call to nursing had long been associated with self-sacrifice and was not to be motivated by selfish and financial reasons. The basis for nursing was to be a love for your fellow humans.
Estrid Rodhe died unexpectedly in her sleep when she was only 34 years old. An obituary in the Dagny journal made a connection between her untimely death and her workload. Estrid Rodhe has had a street name after her in 1949: Syster Estrids gata at Guldheden in Gothenburg. She is buried near her parents at Östra kyrkogården (the Eastern Cemetery) in Gothenburg.