Education - Pathway to Professional Status

The history of nursing is intertwined with the history of nursing education and nursing’s quest for a professional identity. (Allen, 2006) Education has been vital in providing the knowledge, skills, and ability to give quality care to our patients, elevating nursing to a profession and gaining the respect of other professions. The path to nursing's identification as an independent profession has not been an easy one as nursing, dominated by women, was initially bound to the Victorian ideal of women, and hospital's need for an inexpensive source of workers, which conspired to slow nursing's progress toward status as a profession.

Physicians, while recognizing the need for nursing care feared that if nurses were given too much education the nurse would supplant them. These were challenges that nurses needed to overcome; given the enormous challenge, slowly (some say too slowly) nurses have risen to the challenge - thus was the profession of nursing built.


Early Days….

In the eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century women without formal training, unpaid and relying on ’family’ and /or folk remedies, women were expected to care for family members and neighbors who were ill or unable to care for themselves. One notable exception were women members of religions orders who provided the only trained nursing care of the sick.

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Dr. Valentine Seaman –1798—

has the distinction of having made the first attempt to teach nurse nurse attendants belongs to the New York Hospital and to Dr. Valentine Seaman, one of its medical chiefs, a remarkably broad minded man ,is due the honor of having conceived and initiated the first system of instruction to nurses on the American continent.”

Dr. Joseph Warrington described as " a man of liberal opinions and high ideals" . On March 5, 1839 the Nurse Society was formed in Philadelphia which sought females with" good habits, a sense of responsibility, and patient dispositions" to go into the homes of patients. The nurses were taught by the physicians in the lying in department of the Philadelphia dispensary.

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Nurse’s Guide by


Dr. Joseph Warrington

SERIES OF INSTRUCTIONS TO FEMALES WHO WISH
TO ENGAGE IN THE IMPORTANT BUSINESS
OF NURSING MOTHER AND CHILD IN
THE LYING-IN CHAMBER BY J. WARRINGTON, M.D.,
\X
LECTURER ON PRACTICAL OBSTETRICS ; ACCOUCHEUR TO THE
PHILADELPHIA DISPENSARY, AND PHILADELPHIA NURSE
CHARITY; HONORARY MEMBER OF THE PHILADEL
PHIA MEDICAL SOCIETY ; AND FELLOW OF THE COLLEGE OF PHY,SICIANS

PHttrADELPfflA"*''
THOMAS, COWPERTHWAIT AND CO.
1839.

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On March 5, 1839the Nurse Society was formed in Philadelphia which sought females with" good habits, a sense of responsibility, and patient dispositions" to go into the homes of patients. The nurses were taught by the physicians in the lying in department of the Philadelphia dispensary.Emergence of Nursing Schools: Just as in England at the end of the Crimean war, the Civil War became the impetus for the establishment of training schools in America. In 1872 Linda Richards graduated after one year of training from the New England Hospital for Women,: Linda Richards is considered America's first trained nurse.

Emergence of American Nursing Schools: 1872 - 1930's

Foundation: Florence Nightingale Training School St. Thomas Hospital

After the Crimean war Florence Nightingale received funding to start a school of nursing in conjunction with Sr. Thomas Hospital. Funding came from several sources including 4000 £ from soldiers who had fought in the Crimean war. Sir James Pakington proposed a resolution that funds be raised to ''enable her to establish an institution for the training, sustenance, and protection of nurses and hospital attendants”.

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Florence Nightingale’s plan proposed that women trained in nursing care were to work in hospitals and infirmaries after graduation; they were not trained for private duty care in the home. Graduates were encouraged “to become pioneers, teachers and „regenerators‟ in hospital management and nursing systems.[i]

Nursing Education in America: 1872 - 1930's

Just as in England at the end of the Crimean war, the Civil War became the impetus for the establishment of the training schools in America. In America, the first schools for nurses were established after the war and from those there was a steady increase in the number of hospital nurse training schools in America.

While the hospital training schools in the United States were considered to be based on the model created by Florence Nightingale, there were basic differences between the English Nightingale model and the United States Nightingale model. In America training schools were administered by the hospital; the supervisor of nurses was also the director of the school. This was felt to be the best arrangement as the hospital was staffed by the student nurses. Schools were referred to as Training schools and they used an apprenticeship model:. Their priorities were: “Service first, Education second" which meant that classroom work was not seen as important and took place only after the student's clinical work was completed. After graduation the nurses were expected to work as private duty nurses. A few graduates were hired by the hospital as supervisors or head nurses. For the complete article, click here
[i] Nutting& Dock, History f Nursing,1907 vol. 2, p 182 - 183