History of Nursing

History of Nursing: The Beginning

The first recorded nurse was probably one Mary Ward in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603). She worked as a housekeeper for her lord’s son, Sir Thomas Knyvet.

Her job was to tend to his sickly children. Later she became a governess for young girls from poor families.

In 1602, the first English school for nurses opened in London. During this time, there were many women who taught nursing and other related subjects such as anatomy, physiology, pathology and surgery.

There are records of these early schools going on until 1814 when they all closed due to lack of funding. A few of them survived into the 20th century but most have been lost or destroyed over time.

During the American Revolution, some of the soldiers had difficulty with their voices after being exposed to loud noises and noise. They complained to Dr.

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John Harvey Kellogg (1797–1867) a well known nutritionist who came up with a solution: milk and honey! After his death in 1873, his invention was patented. Today it is called “milk and honey” and is still used as a natural remedy for coughs.

History of Nursing: The American Civil War

During the American Civil War (1861-1865) many women served as nurses, both in the North and the South. They were volunteers from church groups and local communities.

During this time, it was not unusual for women to work in hospitals. There was a need for women to work as nurses in the American Civil War because of the shortage of male nurses during that time. One of the most famous female nurses was Clara Barton (1821-1912). She served as a nurse with the Union Army where she helped to set up the first Army hospital in Washington, D.C. After the war she founded the American Red Cross.

The military was involved in medical care during this period. They provided medical services to their soldiers on and off the battlefields.

The military model for providing medical care was used for the creation of civilian hospitals in the United States.

History of Nursing: The Civil War nursing school

In 1862, a group of Philadelphia women banded together to try to provide better nursing care for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. They formed the “Female Nursing Corps” and were sent to hospitals near the battlefields.

Part of their training involved learning from doctors and experienced nurses.

A few years later, during the American Civil War, the first training school for nurses was opened by a woman named Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802-1887). She wanted to make sure that all of the volunteer women who wanted to help in this way had a good idea about how to do it safely and effectively.

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Dix had once organized groups of people to provide much needed help in mental institutions. She was very experienced in this type of work. The first training school, which was for women only, opened in 1863 as part of a military hospital in Washington, D.C. More hospitals and training schools were opened soon after that.

Dix trained many nurses for the Civil War. She also made sure that the job of Army nurse was recognized as a “real” job by the government.

In 1870 the government passed a law that made it mandatory for all states to have regulations for training nurses. In 1873, Dix founded the United States Public Health Service Hospital Training School for Nurses. The first class of eight women graduated three years later in 1876.

Nursing and related medical professions continue to be vital components in the fields of medicine and health care. There are many advances in medicine and nursing today which were unimagined even a century ago.

From personal knowledge of the advancements in medical practices and technology, it is exciting to know that these fields will continue to make life better for people everywhere.



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