Patient care is where the nursing profession plays its unique role. Nurses are tasked with assisting the patient in multiple paths of healing including physical, social emotional and spiritual. Because of their frontline bedside staff position, nurses allot more time in their work day than any other healthcare professional giving direct, hands-on patient-centered attention and care. These men and women must understand the direct impact of their care taking role accompanied with the methods by which to achieve the highest levels of satisfactory patient care.
This evolution of the nursing profession has ultimately resulted in the expansion of nurses from households to hospitals, schools and outpatient clinics. As human society evolved, so did the role of women as natural caretakers making them excel at caring for all. It is believed that Nursing just might be the oldest known profession, as its been learned that some nurses were paid for their services from the earliest of times. Wet Nursing, or nursing children who were not their own for pay, has a long history. A wet nurse was a woman who many times would go to live at the home of her employer to nurse another’s child if the mother was unable to for a variety of reasons.
History of Health Care
History reveals that for many years, one’s home was the center of health care. For at least the first two centuries post European exploration of North America, nursing always took place at the home. Even the nation’s first hospital in Philadelphia in 1751 was thought of mainly as nothing more than an asylum or home for the poor; at least another century or more would pass before the public would view hospitals as legitimate, reputable and safe.
Unfortunately, it was America’s Civil War which gave rise to the need for the building of hospitals and to the development of nursing as a credentialed profession. Women however, the wartime volunteers, were often viewed as no different from “camp followers,” the women (at times mistresses and at times wives) who followed their soldier men. This was an era of sharp class distinctions, and primarily in the South, a “respectable” woman could not be seen in one of these military hospitals.
Many women though, had the bravery and common sense to defy the stereo-type though, primarily in the North, where the US Sanitary Commission became the predecessor to what we now know as the Red Cross. The most renown woman of this time, of course, is Clara Barton—but few realize her genius lie in supply distribution and in development of recognition systems for the missing and dead, not in nursing. It was Ms. Barton herself who acknowledged that she actually nursed for only about six months of the four-year war and that many other women did much more than she.
Is Nursing is the Nation’s Largest Healthcare Profession?
Today, nursing is without a doubt the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with over 3.8 million registered nurses (RNs) throughout the United States. Out of all the nation’s licensed RNs, 84.5% are employed in nursing. The projections of our federal government indicate that more than 200,000 new RN positions will be created every year beginning in 2016 and continuing through 2026.
Almost every healthcare service involves some degree of need for care by nurses. The high demand for Registered Nurses spans a massive umbrella including acute care and community settings, including private practices, health maintenance organizations, public health agencies, primary care clinics, home health care, nursing homes, minute clinics, outpatient surgicenters, nursing school-operated clinics, insurance and managed care companies, schools, mental health agencies, hospices, the military, industry, nursing education, and healthcare research.
2020: Year of the Nurse and Midwife
The World Health Organization claimed 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” paying homage to the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. Throughout history, nurses have been those self-sacrificial persons who have served on the frontline of health crises, natural disaster and epidemics. Look around today and it’s no different. With a heart comprised of dedication and compassion, these men and women are present at the best and worst of times like birth and in death, in moments of great joy and in times of unspeakable sorrow – there is no doubt that they are the backbone of any health care system. The following is a brief look into the latest U.S. data and statistics of a profession that has come a very long way over the last two centuries.
The religion’s of both Christendom and Muslim gave rise to a stream of dedicated nurses from their earliest days. Before the beginning of modern nursing In Europe, it was the Catholic nuns and the military who often provided nursing-like services. It was finally the 19th century which brought about nursing as a secular profession.
When thinking about the profession of Nursing, most think of it as beginning with the work of Florence Nightingale, a wealthy British woman who took captive the public’s imagination when she became the leader of a group of female nurses who ventured to the Crimea in October of 1854 to provide nursing services to British soldiers.
As with the growth of any occupation or industry, nursing has has progressed especially recently with the advent of Telemedicine nursing and concierge nursing. These are just two nursing specialties that have advanced in the past few years with many more specialties to follow. Watch as the field of nursing, as it always has throughout the centuries, expands, adapts and grows to meet the ever changing needs of an aging population by employing new, creative and innovative ideas such as telemedicine and mobile healthcare.
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