Why You May Not Know These Three Nurses

Nurses Week 2018 has come and gone, but there is plenty left to celebrate.

For the past 16 years in a row, the public has rated nursing the most trusted profession. And that’s no small accomplishment!

“Thank you for placing your trust in us…”

Each year, National Nurses Week begins May 6th and ends on May 12th.

Celebrations in the US overlap with International Nurses Day. The day is observed each year on May 12th, which is the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Without a doubt, the Lady with the Lamp… Florence Nightingale is the most famous nurse of all times.

She is credited with establishing nursing as we know it today and considered the “Mother” of modern nursing.

Florence Nightingale was recognized for organizing the nursing care of wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Through establishing training programs for her nurses and directing their work, she was able to deliver excellent care.

In 1860 she established a school for nurses at St Thomas Hospital in London. The school is thought to have been the first secular nursing school at the time.

No doubt, Florence Nightingale was accomplished, dedicated, and made significant contributions to the nursing profession.

But… she is not the only one!

Countless women and men, in their own way, have contributed to the profession. But often they’re not well known, and we may not even recognize their names.

Take Isabella Baumfree…

Born a slave in 1797 New York, she was a nurse to a family by the name of Dumonts. When the promise to free her was broken, she took her young daughter and fled.

Later she worked at the National Freedman’s Relief Association in Washington D.C. She focused on improving quality of care and promoting greater cleanliness.

It was there, in Washington D.C. where she began to promote formal training programs for nurses. She addressed Congress, urging them support training programs for nurses by providing funding.

Ahead of her time, Isabella Baumfree had the courage and the foresight to speak out and advocate on behalf of formal nursing education.

But perhaps you’ve not heard of Isabella Baumfree before?

I’m certain though, you’ve heard of Sojourner Truth… which was her self-given name and the one she is known by today. 

Clara Barton…

Born 1821, Clarissa “Clara” Harlowe Barton was a teacher, a patent clerk, and a nurse.

Even though she had no formal education as a nurse, she worked as a hospital nurse during the American Civil War. At the time, there was no school to learn, because nursing education had not been formalized.

Barton is best recognized for her involvement with the American Red Cross. After the war was over, she witnessed the struggles of soldiers and families to reconnect with each other; too many soldiers were simply missing.

She took the initiative, contacted President Lincoln, and was given the official green light to start what eventually would become the Office of Missing Soldiers. Barton and her staff helped locate missing soldiers and reconnect families.

She was instrumental in creating what we know today as the American Red Cross; she is viewed as the founder of the American Red Cross.

Edward L.T. Lyon…

Even though we all know this, let me share a quote from the 2013 Census Data:

“The nursing profession remains overwhelmingly female, but the representation of men has increased as the demand for nurses has grown over the last serval decades… The number of male registered nurses has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7% to 9.6%…”

In 1955, Edward Lyon, a nurse anesthetist, was the first man to be commissioned in the US Army Nurse Corps; 3,500 commissioned women strong at the time.

His commission was pivotal and led to the eventual amendment of the Army-Navy Nurses Act, addressing the long-standing objection to male nurses held by U.S. military.

This new status gave male nurses more opportunities for advancement and led to a growing number of male nurses. Today, approximately a third of nurses in the military are men.

These are three nurses who left their unique mark on the profession of nursing; but of course, there are many others.

Do you know of a nurse who left her/his mark on the profession? Share the information with us by leaving your comment below.


By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog.

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