Though there was a vast amount of nursing during the war, nursing as a profession belongs to the last quarter of this century; and a definite professional training is of comparatively recent date.
Miss Richards obtained a diploma as a trained nurse from the New England Hospital in Boston, in 1873, and is said to have been the first woman in America to graduate. In the same year Bellevue Hospital of New York opened a training school for nurses. A report of the condition of affairs at the Charity Hospital o Blackwell’s Island, New York, in 1874, shows the need of trained nurses, as we now know them.
“In the fever ward (forty beds) the only nurse was a woman from the workhouse, under six months sentence for drunkenness, who told the patients the story of a most shameful life.” There were no chairs with backs in the hospital. Wooden benches were the only seats. Pillows were of chopped straw. In the fever ward the only bathing conveniences consisted of one tin basin, a piece of soap, and a ragged bit of cloth, passed from bed to bed.
When woman as a trained nurse arrived, all was revolutionized. Her natural love of order and abhorrence of filth would of themselves have caused a transformation, but when to this was added her skill in caring for the sick, all was changed. The attending physicians and practicing students felt the stimulus of a new presence. The lives of patients took on a turn of new value.
Every well conducted hospital now has a training school for nurses as a part of its work This department has been a blessing to patients in hospitals and homes. It has been of inestimable value also to physicians. They are relieved of anxiety as to the intelligent carrying out of their orders. The trained nurse follows the physician’s directions as a solder obeys the orders of his officer.
Some women purposing to study medicine have served for a time as nurses, and it is said that conduces to the self-reliance and independence of thought and action necessary for the physician.
Nursing in England
England was in advance of America in the founding of training schools for nurses. When the Crimean war was closed, the grateful country sought to express its gratitude for the marvelous work of Florence Nightingale. The testimonial took the form of a cash subscription of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This she refused to take for her own use, but asked that it be devoted to founding a training school where others could be fitted to minister to suffering humanity in peace and war. The date of the opening of this school was in 1860, thus antedating the work in America by thirteen years.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.