The History of Nursing

October 3rd, 2012 · No Comments ·

Nurses today require specialized education and training to do their part in health care. Since the beginning, it has remained mostly a female profession but today more males are becoming nurses. Nurses teach preventive care and help to maintain a person’s health. They assist in medical treatments, give support in rehabilitation and attend to the dying. An increasing number of nurses choose to be Hospice nurses who tend only to the dying. Most nurses work in hospitals and nursing homes while others choose to work in public health agencies, in schools, or as industrial nurses.

The History of Nursing
Up until the late 19th century most women did nursing at home. Women in religious orders attended to hospital patients while training on the job. In the last half of the century a change in social circumstances upheld the idea of a more skillful system of health care. Women who were paid to nurse the sick replaced conventional unpaid nurses. By the end of the 1800s, anesthesia, a need for cleaner instruments and prevention of infection had increased the skill and reputation of medical care. People considered surgery and even hospitalization as more trustworthy.

Florence Nightingale, the famous English nurse, is considered the founder of modern nursing because of her commitment to war victims. She was a pathfinder in the practice of sanitation and hygiene. Nightingale founded one of the first nursing schools, the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses at Saint Thomas’s Hospital in London.

During the Civil War Dorothea Dix sought honest and respected women to take care of the sick and wounded soldiers. After the war women organized and established teaching programs for nurses. In 1873 three schools of nursing opened at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, New Haven Hospital in Connecticut and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. At that time there were fewer than 200 hospitals in the United States. In 1891 the first school of nursing for black women opened at Provident Hospital in Chicago. By the late 1920s there were over 7,000 hospitals and more than 2,000 offered schools of nursing.

Since few hospitals employed their graduates, most nurses had to work privately. But by the 1930s and 1940s, due to pressure from nursing organizations, hospitals began to hire their nursing school graduates. World War II brought nurses into positions of great authority and posters of nurses went up everywhere. For the first time in history nurses won the recognition of regular military rank. The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps recruited thousands of young women into the field of nursing. Today hundreds of thousands of nurses are working in hospitals along with many more thousands working in other positions. Yet we still cannot provide a nurse for every sick patient who needs one. We are still in great need of more professional nurses and certified nurse’s aids to give people the appropriate care they deserve.

Education Registered nurses (RN) in the United States prepare for their career by enrolling in a 2-year associate degree program while some enroll in a 4-5 year baccalaureate program. About 17 percent graduate from a hospital nursing school. Licensed practical nurses (LPN) are most often prepared in vocational schools or junior college. Some nurses continue their education to become a nurse practitioner.

They treat patients as a doctor would and it is a known fact that patients get along just as well. Nurse’s aids and orderlies, who assist nurses, were once trained on the job but now they attend hospital schools to be certified.

Today there are over 2 million registered nurses in the United States and the demand for nurses continues to climb as people today are living longer.

Tags: Health