There comes a time in everyone life when they need the help of a Doctor or Nurse.
Medical professionals have always been an essential part of life and they are valuable to society. A career in medicine is an amazing thing but it can also be a challenging and difficult profession to undertake.
We detail 10 amazingly brave nurses famed in American history for their achievements and service to mankind.
1. Helen Fairchild
Helen was an American Nurse who volunteered her services to the American Expeditionary Force to care for wounded soldiers during World war I. She oversaw the care of more than 2,000 injured men during her time spent working in the Passchendaele area. She is known for writing over 100 wartime letters to her family in the US which vividly depict the harsh realities of her service and experiences as a wartime nurse.
She died at the age of 32 as a result of post operative surgical complications suffered after treatment for a large gastric ulcer. She was mourned by her peers and is remembered today as a heroic nurse of the First World War.
2. Mary Eliza Mahoney
Mary became the first African American nurse in the US when she graduated in 1879. She struggled to be accepted into nursing school, working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children (now the Dimock Community Health Centre) for fifteen years before she was accepted for training by this institution. She co-founded the National Association of Coloured Graduates (NACGN) and she inspired the Mary Mahoney Award which was created by the NACGN in 1936 this award is still presented biennially by the ANA to individuals in recognition of significant contributions in advancing equal opportunities in nursing for members of minority groups.
3. Margaret Sanger
Margaret created the term ‘Birth Control’ opening the first birth control clinic in the US which established ‘planned parenthood’. She met a great deal of resistance and opposition from the Catholic Church and from groups who considered her teachings to be pornographic at the time. She was inspired in her work because of her experience in treating the victims of complicated pregnancies and self abortion; she witnessed much of this kind of trauma in the ghettos of New York. She was the 6th child of 11 children and her mother died when she was young; she knew that her mother’s death was attributed to her many pregnancies.
4. Clara Barton
Clara was a nurse and humanitarian who founded the American Red Cross in 1881, an organisation which helps the victims of war and disaster.
Before this she lobbied and organised ways for the northern American states to be able to donate medical supplies and goods to stricken areas affected by the United States civil war. She worked as a nurse throughout the duration of the war travelling in military ambulances to treat the wounded.
She visited Europe in 1870 after being instructed by Abraham Lincoln to search for and identify missing Union soldiers. In Europe she was introduced the International Red Cross an organisation which inspired her to later create the American Red Cross.
5. Walt Whitman
Walt is best known as an American poet who lived during the 19th Century. It is a little known fact that he was also a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Whitman worked part time in Washington DC in the army paymaster’s office. This left him with time to do volunteer in army hospitals, where he wrote about his experiences. His article ‘The Great Army of the Sick’ was published in a New York newspaper in 1863. He was also reported to have been profoundly affected by seeing the wounded soldiers on a journey he made to try & find his brother, who was a serving soldier during the Civil war. His experiences led him to write the book ‘Memoranda during the War’.
6. Mary Breckinridge
Mary was an American nurse and midwife who trained in the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies in England. She is rumoured to have turned to Nursing following the death of her two children and her divorce from her second husband who was unfaithful. She returned to the US in 1925 and in May of the same year she founded the Kentucky Committee for Mothers and Babies, which soon became the Frontier Nursing Service. She also started her own midwifery school in her large log house in Kentucky In 1939 and in 1952 she completed her memoir “Wide Neighbourhoods” which is available from the University of Kentucky Press.
7. Hazel Johnson Brown
Hazel was an African American nurse and teacher who served in the U.S Army between 1955-1983. She became chief of the Army Nurse Corps and she was the first black female general in the US Army. She was inspired to become a nurse at the age of 12 when she met a local public health nurse. She achieved a great deal during her lifetime, overcoming racial prejudice, travelling the world whilst in the army and helping a large number of people.
8. Dorothea Dix
Dorothea was appointed Superintendant of Army Nurses by the Union Army during the Civil war. She was also an activist for vulnerable patients suffering from mental illness, she fought to improve the care of prisoners and the disabled and she fought successfully against doctors and surgeons during the Civil war who did not want female nurses to work in their hospitals.
The US Postal Service honoured her life and work in 1983 by issuing a Dorothea Dix postage stamp as part of the Great American series of stamps issued.
9. Florence Guinness Blake
Florence is remembered as a highly skilled and internationally recognised Paediatric nurse. In her early years she was encouraged by her family to pursue a career in Nursing. After her training she taught paediatric nursing in China for three years and went on to write the textbook ‘The Child, His Parents, and the Nurse’ and co-authored editions of ‘Essentials of Paediatric Nursing, and Nursing Care of Children’ both of these writings have been used heavily by students and Paediatric practitioners ever since. She served as a professor in Paediatric nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing until she retired in 1970.
10. Joyce Slinsky
Joyce was a Nurse for a staggering 45 years! She spent 39 years working at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison in the ER (Emergency room) department. She is now retired but she received an official proclamation from the state Senate and Assembly in recognition of her service and on January 20, 2007 she was honoured and revered as a highly valued member in her community of Brick, New Jersey.