Nursing in the 1970’s, 80’s, & 90’s

During this time the field of medicine is continuing to grow and develop. In-fact, it really hasn’t really stopped. At times it may have had slower progression but it is still progressing. During the 1970’s, nurses were still going on strike due to poor conditions and benefits in the work place which honestly got the government and congress thinking and pushing for changes. Nursing strikes and shortages caused the field to struggle but made up for it in the long run by causing the career to have an increase in salaries and benefits. Once we had the attention of the government and as nurses were coming back to work and more jobs were becoming available, nursing became unstoppable and it allowed for new studies and focused growth in different areas of nursing to develop. 

This week I read an article about how hospice care came about. The very first hospice care program was started in 1974 by a nurse named Florence Wald. Before this time there was no such thing as “end of life care” or care for a terminally ill patient. Once a patient had been given all possible treatments by the hospital and the doctors felt that the patient was no longer treatable, they would be deemed as terminally ill and all treatments would stop because the hospitals didn’t know how to care for them anymore. The patients would simply be sent home to die. Families, caregivers, and the patients themselves had little care and help at this point. Wald felt a lot of compassion toward terminally ill patients and felt she could do more for them. She did a lot of research and put together a team of doctors and nurses who continued care for patients after hospital treatments had stopped and prior to the patients passing. She called it home care and hospice which was care given to both patients and their families prior to death with a focus on relieving the physical and emotional pain of both. Florence Wald changed how people and the healthcare viewed end-of-life. She showed people that there were very meaningful ways to cope and made death more of a reality, less scary, and a more accepting time of life. Her hospice program did so well that in 1982, congress required that Medicare pay for hospice care and today there are now 3,200 hospice programs in the US alone.

Florence Wald really impacted many lives with her contribution to the world of Hospice nursing. It makes me realize how blessed I really am. I live in a time where there are so many aspects to the medical field and I have full access to all of them. If I’m sick, having a baby, have a parent or loved one who is terminally ill, or I need surgery I have every area of researched and organized expertise right at my fingertips. What a blessing that is! Thinking back on these times also makes me think about what else there is that still needs to be further developed and studied. Infertility, Cancer, New arising diseases and prevention, and the list goes on and on. There is still so much unknown about the medical field and nursing which only allows for so much growth and I truly think that is amazing. I’m am eager to see what new discoveries and treatments as well as what the job of a nurse will look like in the next ten years or so! Grateful to be a nurse now and hopeful to see where it is going.

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