Monday, February 19 , 2018, 9:23 pm | Fair 48º

Salute to Nurses

Origins of Nursing Are Proud Roots for a Profession That Is Critical to Care

A memorial statue honoring Vietnam War Women Nurses in Washington D.C. Click to view larger
A memorial statue honoring Vietnam War Women Nurses in Washington D.C. (Green Shoot Media photo)

To fully appreciate nurses and understand everything they do, it’s important to understand where they come from and how far they’ve come as professionals.

It hasn’t always been an easy road for nurses, but through perseverance and an endless commitment to patient care, nurses have carved out a vital niche in the world of health care.

Nursing As a Profession

Nursing became a profession through the diligence of Florence Nightingale — a British citizen who first found her passion for caring for sick people in her town as a child.

In 1854, Nightingale organized a team of nurses to care for the soldiers in the Crimean War, where procedures such as detailed sanitation and vital checks became standard nursing practice.

During her time in the war, the hospital’s death rate decreased by two-thirds.

Formal Nursing Education

Following the war, nursing education formalized and expanded. Nightingale founded the Nightingale Training School for Nurses, and in the next decade prestigious nursing education programs popped up in New York, Boston and Connecticut.

In the 1890s, two nursing organizations formed: the National League of Nursing Education and the American Nurses Association — both of which continue to advocate and assist in nursing education today.

The World Wars

World War I created one of the largest needs for nurses in history. Nurses served both in hospitals and on the front lines aiding fallen soldiers. It was during the war that nurses began to develop specialized skills, which transformed the organization of health care after the war.

The aftermath of World War II presented new challenges; while nursing was heralded as brave and necessary work, it was work that often garnered a low wage, demanding hours and poor working conditions, thus fewer young women were considering the profession.

Historically, the nursing profession has adapted and changed to suit the needs of health care. Nursing is responsible for incredible medical advancements that we continue to enjoy today. It is a profession that continues to be respected and in high demand.

Through a variety of disciplines and credentialing opportunities, it also is one of the most stable employment opportunities for future workers.

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