The History Of Nursing: How This Profession Got Its Start


The concept of nursing originated from “wet-nursing” (providing care) that took place in many parts of the world up until the end of the 15th century. It wasn’t until the 16th century that the terms nursing or nurses were extended to include the care and nurturing of anyone who needed care or help with an injury or ailment.

The Birth of Formal Nursing

In was during the 16th century and after that Catholic nuns in Europe started responding to the sick and hurt with varying levels of care through charity hospitals and small medical care facilities. Initially, ruling Protestant reformers rejected the notion that God would give favor to those who provided this kind of care, eventually closing down hospitals wherever they would appear. The battle over the issue would continue in many parts of Europe, particularly in England and Germany, until well into the 19th century.

Modern Nursing

Based on scripture, the first Deaconess hospital was opened in Germany around the mid-1800s. Up until the early 1900s, more hospitals began springing up all over Europe and into the Americas. These hospitals were typically run by nuns and/or volunteers who would enlist the services of doctors to come in to provide advanced care while the nurses would take of the non-life threatening illnesses and ailments. It was during this time that Florence Nightingale began to develop what would become the traditional modern nurse.

As the number of hospitals continued to grow, they became profit centers where churches, administrators and investors would come in and run the facilities while allowing the nurses and doctors to provide the necessary care and treatment. Initially, nurses were mostly referred to as deaconesses, of which there were as many as 70,000-75,000 worldwide by the middle of the 20th century.

The Effects of Modern Medicine

As advancements in medicine brought better treatments and care to patients in the 1900s, the nursing profession was subjected to stricter requirements related to education and experience. Without the proper education, women and men who wanted to serve as nurses were relegated to being assistants, orderlies or “Candy-Strippers.” Today, it’s not uncommon for people to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing in order to earn the opportunity to work in some of the world’s finest hospitals.

As nurses have obtained higher levels of experience working closely with doctors and surgeons, the nursing industry has become a vital part of the healthcare industry and very well respected throughout the world.

The article was written by Kara Masterson, a freelance writer hailing from Utah, United States.

1 Comment on "The History Of Nursing: How This Profession Got Its Start"

  1. Peter Deepinsky | January 9, 2017 at 9:29 pm |

    “Based on scripture, the first Deaconess hospital was opened in Germany around the mid-1800s.” Can you elaborate as to which scriptures you are referring to here? Thanks!

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