Why do Nurses need to study History

  1. I'm not talking Nursing History. I'm taking Western Civ. as a co-req in my RN to BSN program. We have a weekly hour discussion, where we're graded on showing up and participating, but not our answers.

    One of the discussion questions this week is "Why is it important for the nursing professional to have a basic knowledge of history?"

    I'm stumped on this. Other than the old standard of having a well-rounded education, I'm not sure why I need to have a knowledge of Mesopotamians and ancient Egyptians?

    Any ideas? (Again this is not a graded question so I'm not asking anyone to do my homework, it's just a topic for discussion, and I'd like to participate.)

    Thanks.
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  2. 34 Comments

  3. by   Jessy_RN
    I am stumped as well Tweety. Maybe to learn of other cultures? Not sure either will check back to read other responses.
  4. by   canoehead
    Wow, I banged into a wall on that one. Luckily your answer doesn't have to be right, just enthusiastic...let's see.

    Well, who knows what new microbes could be discovered in those tombs and shipped to a museum near you?

    Someone else must have something better.
  5. by   rn/writer
    Maybe it's to have some idea of the infamous big picture, especially since BSN nurses have many opportunities to work in public health.

    I'm not sure about those old Mesopotamians, but if you look back through the last couple of hundred years, you can see some trends. The health of a nation is heavily influenced by its economy, natural disasters, social trends, etc. I think of the Industrial Revolution and the way it amplified cramped, unsanitary living conditions and the rampant spread of disease. Oh, and the horrendous plight of poor children who started in mines and factories when they were only seven or eight years old. Lot's of nursing opportunities in that kind of society.

    You can also see things like the campaign to cure yellow fever and malaria as a response to the death toll associated with digging the Panama Canal.

    You can track the path of different diseases that came along with conquest and immigration.

    How about the Great London Fire butting up against the plague or Florence Nightingale opening up the idea of nursing to middle and upper class women during the Crimean War or the creation of various health organizations in response to regional famines or epidemics? These are just a few of the things that come to mind.

    Maybe at some point we'll do better at anticipating the world's health needs and we'll be able to do more than just react. History will have a lot to teach us in that regard.

    I hope you have a great time in your class, Tweety.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Nov 7, '05
  6. by   llg
    I think it is important for nurses to have a broad understanding of the world in which they live ... it's people, cultures, how it works, etc. The more you learn about the world and it's people, the better-prepared you will be to understand and respond to the situations in which you find yourself.

    I don't just pay lip service to that aspect of a "pro-liberal arts" philosophy. I truly believe and lead my life that way. I am constantly learning valuable lessons from experiences, books, movies, etc. that appear on the surface to have nothing to do with nursing. They are simply about people, things, and life in general and they enrich my life and understanding of the world.

    Studying history is one way to increase that general knowledge of the world and its people -- assuming it is a good history class and involves more than just the memorization of names, places, dates, and battles. A good history lesson includes the study of the motivations, human tendencies, causative factors, etc. that created the events as well as the implications of those events for the people (including us) that came after those events. A good history class helps us to understand ourselves and our current situation better by giving us a broader and deeper understanding of how and why we got to where we are today.

    A good history class also teaches us lessons about how to handle our current situations by giving us examples of past situations and analyzing those examples. In much the same way that we learn from our own experiences ... we can learn from the experiences of others if we study them well.

    llg
  7. by   TexasPediRN
    Western Civ.. brings back memories

    I too had to take it, in fact..I think I had to take 2 semesters of it.
    I know it doesnt help you much, but the whole reasoning we got (I have my BSN) is that it makes you more well rounded in your knowledge.

    But if you do find out how western civ does this, i would love to know!! This way I could justify at least part of my student loans! I also took philosophy, ethics, fine arts.and more..
  8. by   nursemomruns
    Quote from llg
    I think it is important for nurses to have a broad understanding of the world in which they live ... it's people, cultures, how it works, etc. The more you learn about the world and it's people, the better-prepared you will be to understand and respond to the situations in which you find yourself.

    I don't just pay lip service to that aspect of a "pro-liberal arts" philosophy. I truly believe and lead my life that way. I am constantly learning valuable lessons from experiences, books, movies, etc. that appear on the surface to have nothing to do with nursing. They are simply about people, things, and life in general and they enrich my life and understanding of the world.

    Studying history is one way to increase that general knowledge of the world and its people -- assuming it is a good history class and involves more than just the memorization of names, places, dates, and battles. A good history lesson includes the study of the motivations, human tendencies, causative factors, etc. that created the events as well as the implications of those events for the people (including us) that came after those events. A good history class helps us to understand ourselves and our current situation better by giving us a broader and deeper understanding of how and why we got to where we are today.

    A good history class also teaches us lessons about how to handle our current situations by giving us examples of past situations and analyzing those examples. In much the same way that we learn from our own experiences ... we can learn from the experiences of others if we study them well.

    llg
    llg, I totally agree. I will also add that in looking back at the ancient cultures, we learn about philosophy, which helps us understand modern psychology, which we certainly need in nursing. Loooking back at ancient cultures does allow us to draw parallels with modern life. It also gives us information on how scientific thought developed - also important to nursing.
  9. by   NRSKarenRN
    Quote from Tweety
    "Why is it important for the nursing professional to have a basic knowledge of history?"
    I recently realized that I'm using my early history lessons regarding how + where persons emigrated into the US when I verify Medicare insurance coverage.

    There are 9 regions in which a person's Medicare benefits are based. By knowing that persons from Europe emigrated via northeast, Hispanic and African Americans from the Southeast/Southern areas; Chinese and Asian immigrants via Pacific and northwest area's of US, I start my Medicare searches in these regions based on last name ethnic characteristics, along with if they worked for government or railroad (benefits aways based in South or Great West areas). I'm verifying 99% insurances on first try since I started doing it this was way--saving time.


    Knowing history helps one understand deeply ingrained cultural traditions and longstanding cultural bias that often go back generations. Helps us be culturally sensitive to our clients, especially those new to the US.
  10. by   Spidey's mom
    Wow Tweety - your homework just got done for you.:hatparty:

    I agree with all the above - I really do believe in the liberal arts college experience.

    steph
  11. by   UM Review RN
    I think it also helps us have a broader perspective as nurses, to realize that we are sometimes battling the same diseases and the same ignorance that causes those diseases to spread.

    Take a look at some of the diseases that have outlived the most civilized, progressive cultures....lead poisoning in Roman aqueducts, or leprosy, or TB, or syphilis.

    There's not that much "new" under the pathogenic sun, after all.
  12. by   llg
    Nice thread ... I have enjoyed reading everyone's responses. Thanks, Tweety.

    llg
  13. by   Race Mom
    Wow! And I thought it was just because the schools need our money more than we do!!!!



    Woogy

    ps...you guys are a bunch of brains!



  14. by   Mommy TeleRN
    Hey..now I wish I'd paid better attention in my History courses! :chuckle

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