Since the beginning of colonization in the Americas nurses have been at the forefront of medicine. In all of the important stages of our countries development nurses have been there to care for the sick, heal the wounded, and provide a caring hand. They have created a growing and developing profession. Nurses have changed the scope of healthcare and patient care in the United States.
In colonial America much of what we considered modern medicine had not even been thought of yet. In the 18th century nursing was not a profession yet. In America most people were not able to reach a trained medical doctor they relied on the help of the woman of the house. So during the colonial time most of the actual medical care provided was based in the home of the patient. Most of what these women knew was either taught to them by their mothers or by a “guidebook”. In these guidebooks women were able to find helpful recipes for herbal medications. They only time that women worked outside of the home was to serve as midwife to other women. Women competed with men for success because women helping other women during childbirth made more sense than men. However it wasn’t until the Revolutionary War that women really stood up and the field of nursing really began in the United States.
During the Revolutionary War women played an important role as nurses to the soldiers and were even paid. Women were so important during this time because they were able to provide the necessary general care for the soldiers like wound dressing, bed cleaning, making meals, and even making and providing medications. Women really helped because they were able to take some of the burden of the “doctor” who could be responsible for up to 600 soldiers at a time. (PDF)
The 19th century really saw women step forward in the medical field. While Florence Nightingale was not from the Americas she did have a very large impact on nursing all over the world. She was a pioneer of the nursing profession, which mostly began with her help tending to wounded solider during the Crimea War. With all that she had learned from her time in the war Florence began writing books about nursing and in 1860 she established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. Even during our own Civil War Florence was called on regularly to consult on how American nurses could manage their own war hospitals. (BIO)
At the start of the Civil War there were still no properly “trained” nurses and no nursing schools. When women began hearing of the many accounts of the poor medical care that the soldiers were receiving, hundreds of women decided to act. Even though they were uneducated and had no actual experience they still volunteered to help in field hospitals, on the battlefield, and even make shift hospitals in people’s homes. During the war the Union doctors were not convinced that the untrained women could help due to their inexperience and lack of training. However at the end of the Civil War the volunteer nurses...