Many people believe that Nursing started with Florence Nightingale, however nursing itself dates back to the beginnings of motherhood when nurses were traditionally female. In fact, nursing schools and medicine have been closely intertwined throughout the ages. The history of nursing has its origins in the care of infants and children, so all mothers were in fact nurses. Gradually an evolution started developing into dedicated caregivers who practiced the art. In fact, nursing has been called the oldest of arts and the youngest of professions.
When it became apparent that love and nurturing alone were not enough to cure disease, the need for a more educated framework for nurses began to form. The history of nursing first started to become more continuous and defined with the dawn of Christianity. Early records of the history of nursing do exist, but are quite fragmented. Nursing began to model its practice after the teachings of Christ, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry and burying the dead. Therefore, during this period the history of nursing is intricately tied to the Church.
Nursing in the Modern Age
After the Crusades, the world was ripe for social reform. The history of nursing was about to change. One of the most important factors in the birth of modern nursing was the establishment of the Deaconess Institute at Kaiserswerth, Germany. A small hospital was opened which included a training school for deaconesses. Their training system was a close parallel to the educational system for nurses that we see today.Graduates of this program assumed positions in all four corners of the globe and took their place in the history of nursing.
Florence Nightingale is perhaps the most centralized figure in the history of nursing. She overcame tremendous social opposition to become a nurse and to care for soldiers during the Crimean War. Her dedication to her profession was responsible for decreasing the death toll among soldiers.Nevertheless, even with these great accomplishments she had not achieved her greatest desire, to open a training school for nurses. In 1860, Florence’s dream was finally realized when the Nightingale Training School for Nurses opened. This was the first formal, fully organized training program for nurses. Graduates of the program went into the four corners of the world to teach other nurses and were highly sought by hospitals. While Florence Nightingale did not invent the profession of nursing, she was a living memorial to it and forever will have a place and influence in the history of nursing.