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Key Ideas in Nursing's First Century

Baer, Ellen Davidson PhD, RN, FAAN

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: May 2012 - Volume 112 - Issue 5 - p 48–55
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000414321.10073.c8
Feature Articles

OVERVIEW This article identifies some of the major ideas underpinning modern American nursing in its first 100 years, and postulates that distinct periods in nursing's early formal development were dominated by a particular theme or set of ideas. The themes, which were largely determined by social priorities, scientific advances, and national emergencies, overlapped, enriched each other, and provided an impetus for nursing to evolve into the highly skilled profession it has become.

Within its first 100 years, nursing evolved from “work performed by nice people” into a profession that employed highly skilled experts to provide lifesaving and technical care to people who were ill or injured.

Ellen Davidson Baer is professor emerita at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, and cofounder and former associate director of the university's Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing. Contact author: The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.