Since its introduction in the mid-1800s, the nursing profession has evolved leaps and bounds. Like other aspects of the medical profession, you might not recognize the nursing practice even as recently as a hundred years ago. So much has changed.
For example, it’s not such a female-dominated anymore; there are plenty of male nurses who take their jobs seriously. The schooling is a lot different, too. Yet, in other ways, much about nursing is the same. A nurse still helps the sick and injured; it’s just the overall science of treatment that has improved.
Let’s look at some of the ways that nursing has transformed since 1920.
In the early 1900s, nursing schools were called “Nightingale schools” after Florence Nightingale. There were less than a thousand such schools in the U.S. at the time. Students spent two to three years in training, but most of it was on the job. The aspiring students took care of actual hospital patients and spent little time in classrooms. Their time in school was more like an apprenticeship than what the modern nursing student goes through.
Today, there are a few classifications of nurses: LVN and RN are the most common. An LVN is a Licensed Vocational Nurse, and the schooling runs for about a year. An RN is a Registered Nurse, and the schooling is much longer. RN nursing programs last two or three years; some RNs pursue bachelor’s and graduate degrees. Gone are the days when a nursing profession
World War I ended near the end of 1918, and World War II didn’t start until the end of the 1930s. However, during those wars, many nurses were deployed to hospitals near the front lines. They had to deal with horrible sights, but many worked selflessly to help the injured and dying.
In addition to war hospitals, nurses back in the U.S. a hundred years ago were going through a change, as healthcare began its journey to become what it is today. Before the 1920s, babies were often born at home under midwife care. Some nurses were qualified to administer anesthesia. But standards were being laid down. Hospitals were beginning to look like what we expect a hospital to look like today.