Nursing in 1900 – 1919

We are now in the early 1900s and already a lot has happened causing nursing to make large adaptions and changes. In my studies this week I came to realize that nursing at this time was really starting to make a push on the public in many ways. Nursing was no longer being offered just to the poor and ill in a hospital setting but also to the public. 

My research article i read this week, talked about the very first school nursing programs. In the early 1900’s children were missing a lot of school due to common illnesses. If a teacher felt a student was sick, they would be sent home immediately but not given any treatment or consulting on the type of illness. Children would miss days up to weeks of school which was becoming a big problem. In 1902 a nurse named Linda Lavanceh Rogers was assigned by the Henry Street Settlement which was a program set up to assist with the public and their needs in the New York Community. Rogers was employed to be a nurse in a public school basically as an experiment to see if it would help raise the children’s school attendance. Having a nurse in the schools gave the children a chance to be assessed and treated quickly. The results of having a school nurse astonished the public and led to employment of school nurses throughout the entire country. After this, the term “public health nurse” became well known and the role of the school nurse expanded to include teaching of student wellness, disease prevention, and health education. Public health nursing gained such acknowledgment that in 1912 the National Organization for Public Health Nursing was founded and a program was set up to expand public health nursing into community based nursing services as well.

The need for nurses in the public was great both at home and across sea’s. In 1914 WW1 broke out and the desperation for nurses arose. Over 20,000 nurse were sent to serve on war front. Many of these nurses were just volunteers with little to no training. This put a large focus and strain on education and training programs available. I’m sure it also put a gratitude on already trained and prepared nurses. WW1 really set the tone and changed nursing. It gave nursing the push it needed to get people interested in the field because the demand for trained nurses was so great. It also helped with the women’s rights movement by allowing trained professional woman to work in active battle and to hold high titles. It also helped define the role of a nurse and helped with legal programs and the finalizing of professional titles.

Nursing greatly evolved during this time. I had a great-grandfather who fought in this war and I feel so grateful for him and for the the trained nurses who served. I’m sure the wounded soldiers and their families were also very grateful to the courageous woman who took the liberty of getting the training before hand so they were prepared to save lives. Due to these courageous nurses example I hope that if I was ever put in a situation where I had to serve as a nurse in combat, I would follow their lead and do as they did.

Nursing in the 1880’s through 1899

We are almost to the 1900’s and I have learned so much about the history of nursing thus far. Nursing has come so far in a considerably short amount of time. During my studies this week I learned that during the 1880’s through 1899 (just before the 1900’s), the development of educational programs were becoming the main focus on nursing at this time. Education programs were being established everywhere including the very first nursing program to have ever been offered at a university.  In 1893 Howard University in Washington D.C was the first university to ever offer a nursing program in a university setting. Up until this point all nursing programs had only been offered through either hospitals, churches, or private academies but never in an actual university setting. Howard University set the trend for institutions to offer a higher level of nursing education where one would graduate with a degree from a university in nursing. This was a big deal and caused the study of nursing to be considered degree worthy.

Backing up a little bit, I found that in 1885 the very first ever nursing textbook to be written by a nurse was published. Before this only physicians were known to have written the textbooks for nurses. The textbook was called “A Textbook of Nursing” written by Clara S. Weeks Shaw. Clara Shaw was a graduate of the New York Hospital Training School and the Superintendent of a Training School for Nurses in Paterson, New Jersey. Her book included instruction in areas such as “the sick room,” “the observation of symptoms,” and “medicines and their administration” written by the point of view and observations of a nurse.

Continuing with the development of educational programs, In 1886 the very first nursing school for African American women opened up in Atlanta Georgia called Spelman Seminary. This was a big deal because African American women had previously experienced severe segregation when applying to nursing school even though they were greatly needed in caring for people of color and in colored hospitals. Like African American’s, all Men also experienced some segregation in the nursing profession because it was mainly considered a women’s job and so they too were unable to get acceptance to nursing schools, but the need for men was soon recognized and the very first nursing school for just men opened in 1888 at Bellevue Hospital in New York City called The Mills Training School for Men.

The evolution of nursing really has changed and grown considerably in a short amount of time.  I believe that nursing made such astonishing development in such a short amount of time because the need for nurses was in great demand and continues to be today. Nursing is an ever evolving career. As technology and traditions change, nursing will change right along with it and I believe it will continue to make great changes and contributions. It’s interesting to me that nursing has so much background and history compared to many career’s today. It makes me so proud to be a nurse and I hope to always remember how far nursing has come. With that, I have a goal to be more accepting to change in my career as a nurse because I know that nursing is always evolving. Sometimes change can be difficult and that is why I have learned that knowing the background and history is so important because it gives you incite and allows you to become more accommodating.



Nursing in the 1860’s & 1870’s

This week our assigned research topic was nursing in the 1860’s through the 1870’s. In the attempts of finding the article of choice, it seemed that there was a similar topic among the multiple articles I read for this time period which was the topic of education. I have come to learn that during the 1860’s to the 1870’s education was really starting to take way and nursing programs were steadily being organized and carried out. Women during the 1800’s did not have a lot of rights as far as education and working in an occupation went, yet nursing programs were mostly geared towards women. With each war, the need for trained nurses increased and the push for women to get an education and occupation in nursing was stressed on society.

In learned about one of the very first nursing schools started in the USA at a women’s hospital in Philadelphia opened by a surgeon of the name Samuel Gross.  He believed that nurses were more valuable than his greatest medication and cared a great deal about nursing. The school opened in the 1863 and was established during those first few years until 1869 when it became a well known school of nursing.  It was a six month course in nursing where both women who just nursed families and wanted more education on how to do so along with other women who planned on having nursing as an occupation. Both types of students could enroll in the course and received the same education, training, and instruction. The women who were there to better learn to nurse their sick family members and not make it an occupation had to pay two dollars a course of ten lectures. On the other hand, women who were there to become nurses as an occupation only had to pay seventy five cents for a course of ten lectures or ten cents for a single lecture. It was cheaper if you were going to pursue the entire six month course as a nursing occupation, rather than just taking the course to help your family care.

Although both set of training got the same education, the nursing occupation students did get higher skilled one on one work with instructors and had a greater focus on the ability to look more closely at their patients bodies and develop a plan of care. They were referred to having an education closer to a physicians education.

You can see the benefits applied to the occupation students. This shows that the USA really was encouraging women to get an education in nursing at the time which is so interesting to me because I think that a lot of people focus greatly on women’s rights and when they began, yet women were getting more rights to education and occupation then I think many realized. I was definitely surprised to learn that women were encouraged from early on to get an education in nursing during times of what was thought to be segregation. 

I am so grateful for those first women who took a leap of faith and decided to pursue an education and occupation in nursing during a time when it wasn’t easy to do so. I’m also grateful for all the hard working men and women who put countless hours and care to organize programs and get things moving. I think that if things didn’t start when they did and didn’t progress how they did, our knowledge and history would greatly suffer today.

Samuel Gross, “Report of the Committee on the Training of Nurses.” Transactions of the American Medical Association, 1896: 161-74


Nursing in the 1830’s 1840’s & 1850’s

This is a busy week for me and their was a lot to do but I did learn a lot  about the culture and social standing of nursing during these times. 

To start,  I found that in the early 1830’s the protestant reformation caused all monasteries to close and land to be overruled which lead nursing as a profession to become a job for the lower class “common” woman who were either too old or too sick to get a job doing anything else. These woman had no knowledge of nursing and no experience. Due to becoming a job of lower class, the lifestyle had taken a turn for the worst. Some hospital records exposed the actions of these nurses which included, fighting, foul language, intimate relationships with patients, falling drunk on duty, taking delight in patients death, and robbery. The actions of nurses had become so scandalous and drew much attention that even Charles Dickens wrote about it in his novel called “Martin Chuzzlewit”. This continued into the early 1840’s until some British social reformers pledged to have religious programs put into place in hopes to change the lifestyle and actions of nurses. In 1848-1850 an English protestant sisterhood of nurses was formed at St. Johns which for 15 pounds of sterling silver a sister could join the sisterhood. This sisterhood provided each nurse with a two year education, training, housing, and a small salary but each nurse had to commit to working for St. Johns House for at least five years after. The promise was that as long as they were living in the house, each nurse would be protected and provided with basic necessities. This allowed rules and tight religious restrictions to be placed on each nurse. By the 1850’s nursing had started to change coarse for social standing. Florence Nightingale came along in the 1850’s and was a big advocate on changing nursing into an upper class career and was one of the main reasons today that nursing is an honorable career choice. Florence would banish nurses if they did anything that would shame the social standing of a nurse.

I find it so interesting that so many people wanted to change the course and social standing of nursing during this time. It must have been pretty bad. It’s interesting to me that it just took a few very strict type A personality people in high standing to make this change.  I love my profession and I’m so grateful for all the people who made the change and made it what it is today!