Help: Nursing Education Prior to 1970

  1. Hello,

    I have an assignment that requires me to discuss nursing education prior to 1970. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!
  2. Visit vwade profile page

    About vwade

    Joined: Jan '07; Posts: 2
    Specialty: Cardiac


  3. by   sirI
    hello, vwade and welcome to

    check here:

    hope this helps to get you started. enjoy the site here at and come back when you can. look forward to seeing more of your posts.
  4. by   Daytonite
    hi, vwade!

    i know the forum encourages students to post on this forum when they are looking for help from nurses, but i really think you' should also post this question on the general nursing discussion forum ( and put a title on it that will attract the older nurses like: "nurses trained before 1970--need your help!"

    i miss your mark by a couple of years. i started nursing school in 1973. however, there was an older lady in one of my community organizations who had been encouraging me to go to nursing school for some time who had gone before wwii. she had shown me some of her nursing textbooks that she still had! i loved hearing her talk about her experiences and it scared me, too, because at the time i knew nothing about the profession. she went to a school of nursing that was part of a hospital. you had to be single. she lived in a dormitory that was next to the hospital and owned by the hospital. the students were expected to work shifts on the hospital wards. this is how they got their clinical training. often, they worked the night shift and it was the only time they were allowed out of the dorms after their curfew times. there was no housekeeping staff, kitchen or central supply. the nurses did it all. they made all the meals and served them to the patients. the nurses cleaned the rooms. when a patient was discharged, the nurses did the terminal disinfection of the bed and the room. there were no disposables. needles were sharpened and sterilized for re-use. there were sterilizers on every unit. the nurses made up their own sterile dressing kits and sterilized them. medications were kept in bottles in locked cupboards like mini-pharmacies. medications for each patient were "poured" into paper soufflé cups and placed next to a medicine card. these cards and soufflé cups were placed in special medication trays that the nurse carried around from patient to patient. thermometers were the old glass ones with mercury in them; red tops for rectal and blue tops for oral. they were washed and sterilized for reuse in the utility room.

    these are just some of the things i can recall her talking about and a few that were still in use when i was doing my student clinicals.

    if there are any older hospitals in the town where you live that might have had nursing programs back in those days, you might give them a call. someone on their staff knows where there are some records of what went on in the school at that time. if that hospital has a school library they might even have copies of the old nursing textbooks preserved somewhere. looking at these is an absolute hoot! some of these hospitals even display class photos of the first classes of nurses to graduate from their programs. you might also contact the american nurses association as well as your state nurses association. every once in a while the ana goes back to do nostalgic pieces for their publication, ajn, on the old days. there was also a recently published book on the history of nursing. can't think of the name of it, but you might be able to find it on one of the bookseller sights.

    welcome to allnurses!
  5. by   vwade
    Thank you very much for the information and the suggestions. I really appreciate it.
  6. by   fleur-de-lis
    We had a lecture on the earliest training for nurses and it was all done in the hospitals. Basically the nursing students did the work of "real" nurses but they paid for the privilege instead of earning wages. They were mostly trained by physicians. Then, the real kicker, when they graduated there were no jobs because the hospitals were staffed guessed it...nursing students!!! Aren't you glad we're going to school in 2007!

    Try a google search for first nursing school or something and see what turns up. It should be an interesting topic!