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.

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