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Thursday, 20 October 2016


Before the foundation of modern nursing, members of religious orders such as nuns and monks often provided nursing-like care. The religious roots of modern nursing remain in evidence today in many countries. One example in the United Kingdom is the use of the honorific "sister" to refer to a senior nurse.

In 1214 the 17 year old Chiara Offreduccio, a heiress of Assisi, heard Francis of Assisi preach the Lenten Sermon in San Rufino. She was so struck by what he said that she begun to meet with the Saint to discuss her vocation. As a result she and Francis formed a sister order, the Poor Clares, which devoted themselves to nursing.

Chiara and her sisters wore no shoes, ate no meat, lived in a poor house, and kept silent most of the time. Chiara herself was noted for her caring disposition, walking amongst the nuns tucking in their bedclothes. She died on August 11, 1253 and was canonized two years later as Saint Clare of Assisi.

During the Reformation of the 16th century, Protestant reformers shut down the monasteries and convents, allowing a few hundred municipal hospices to remain in operation in northern Europe.

In 1633 The Company of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul was founded by Saint Vincent de Paul, a French priest, and Saint Louise de Marillac, a widow. The Catholic community did not remain in a convent, but nursed the poor in their homes, "having no monastery but the homes of the sick, their cell a hired room, their chapel the parish church, their enclosure the streets of the city or wards of the hospital."

For several centuries in Europe, nursing was regarded as a menial occupation fit only for the lower-classes, because of the unpleasant and disgusting aspects of the work. On October 13, 1836 Theodore Fliedner, the Lutheran pastor of Kaiserswerth near Düsseldorf, established the Deaconess Institute. The scheme led respectable ladies into nursing and produced the world's first trained nurses.

In 1845 Florence Nightingale announced to her family her decision to make a commitment to nursing, a career then with a poor reputation and filled mostly by poorer women. Nightingale was particularly concerned with the appalling conditions of medical care for the legions of the poor and indigent. Her choice evoked intense anger and distress from her well connected prosperous family.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale laid the foundations of professional nursing during the Crimean War and afterwards with her 1859 publication Notes on Nursing.

Notes on Nursing also sold well to the general reading public and is considered as a classic introduction to nursing.

In 1860 Florence Nightingale set up the first school of nursing connected to a general hospital. The Nightingale Nursing School was founded at St Thomas's Hospital, London and used the founder's Notes On Nursing as the cornerstone of its curriculum.

Between 1941–45 over 59,000 American women served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

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