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.



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