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Thursday, 20 October 2016


The first known nurse is said to have been Phoebe, a deaconess sent to Rome by St Paul in the first century and mentioned in Romans 16:1.

Fabiola, a Christian of noble birth, founded an early for the sick and poor of Rome in 382. Fabiola waited on the inmates herself and it was said she personally washed away the matter discharged from her patients' wounds which others couldn't bear to look at.

Many Christians were called to dedicate their lives to serve the sick and dying in these early Roman hospitals and hospices. These places were generally modest and often short-lived, with around 10 to 12 beds and a couple of brothers or sisters in charge.

Hospital nursing remained as part of the Christian service provided by religious orders in the Middle Ages.

The word 'nurse' originally meant a wet-nurse, employed to breastfeed aristocratic babies. Later a nurse was any woman who looked after children, from which the modern meaning evolved.

In 1715, there were four employment bureaux for wet-nurses in Paris.

The modern nurse's uniform was developed from the habit of nuns. This goes back to the days when these Christian ladies were the first to look after the sick. These professional nurses then adopted a version of the nuns' dress.

Nurses wearing a traditional uniform .By MaƂgorzata Dudzik. Wikipedia
In the early part of the nineteenth century,  the role of nurse was handled by female "hanger-ons" who followed the armies - they were equally likely to function as cooks or prostitutes. When Florence Nightingale announced to her family in 1845 her intention to become a nurse, it evoked intense anger and distress from them, particularly her mother.

Mary Seacole was 49 when she travel led from Jamaica to London to offer her services as a nurse in the Crimean War. She was turned down, so paid for her own passage to Crimea and set up a shop and mess hall for soldiers called "The British Hotel."

Florence Nightingale's Nightingale Nursing School was founded at St Thomas's Hospital, London in 1860.

Notes on Nursing by Florence Nightingale was published in 1859 and expanded and published again in 1860 and in 1861. The book served as the cornerstone of the curriculum at the Nightingale School and other nursing schools that were established,

Florence Nightingale at St Thomas Wikipedia

Four nuns became the first female nurses to serve on a U.S. Navy hospital ship on December 26 1862, when they began work as volunteer nurses on board USS Red Rover.

Mary Mahoney was the first African-American woman to study and work as a professionally trained nurse. She worked as a maid at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston before being admitted to its nursing school in 1878. She graduated the following year and was employed as a private nurse caring for seriously ill patients in their homes.

Clara Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912)  a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, later became involved with the International Red Cross while visiting Europe. In 1881 she founded the American Red Cross. She was noteworthy for doing humanitarian work at a time when relatively few women worked outside the home.

After serving as a visiting nurse among the poor, the American Lavinia Dock compiled the first, manual of drugs for nurses in 1890, Materia Medica for Nurses.

Edith Cavell became a nurse in 1895, and matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute, Brussels, twelve years later. After the First World War broke out she tended friend and foe alike, yet was executed by the Germans for helping Belgian and Allied fugitives to escape capture.

Nurse Edith Cavell Wikipedia

The earliest recorded use of the word ‘murse’ to mean a male nurse was in 2003.

In 2013 the British National Health Service employed 371,777 qualified nursing staff.

One in 10 hospital nurses in Britain are male. In the mid 1960s, the figure was one in a hundred.

International Nurses Day is celebrated every year on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, was voted the fifth greatest villain in movie history by the US Film Institute.

Source Daily Express

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