The word nurse commonly brings to mind the picture of a woman in a white uniform taking care of sick people in hospitals. The scope of nursing is much wider. Nurses, both men and women, provide home care ,look after the elderly, the terminally ill and others residing in long term care facilities like nursing homes. In many parts of the world a nurse is considered the primary care giver. Expectant mothers often prefer the services of nurse mid-wives. Schools and offices employ nurses and nurse anaesthetists provide safe anaesthesia care. Today, it is considered an excellent career option for both men and women.
FACT 1: Nursing is the largest, the most diverse and most respected of all health care professions. There are more than 3 million registered nurses in the USA and millions more world-wide.
FACT 2: Nursing began as a helping profession. It was mostly undertaken by nuns and that is why nurses are still referred to as ‘sister’ in many parts of the world.
FACT 3: Early nurses were considered low class. Florence Nightingale was an upper class, well educated lady who went out and nursed the wounded and sick soldiers during the Crimean War (1853 -1856). She held that the education and knowledge of hygiene that upper class women possessed would greatly benefit the sick. She became a role model for many other young educated women, who then joined her, making it a respectable profession.
FACT 4: In 1860 Florence Nightingale established the first scientifically based nursing school- The Nightingale School of Nursing – at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
FACT 5: International Nurses day is observed annually on May 12. It commemorates the birth of Florence Nightingale and celebrates the important role of nurses in health care.
FACT 6: Nurses played a prominent role in the First World War. The American naval combat ship, the USS Highbee, is named after Nurse Lenah Highbee, one of the first nurses to join the US Navy Nurse Corp established in 1908. She was the first female to be awarded the Navy Cross for her unusual devotion to duty in World War 1.
FACT 7: Fifty years ago nurses wore starched aprons with cotton caps, were taught hospital etiquette and lived in fear of their ward sister and matron. They did not engage in decision making or problem solving. Today the responsibilities of a nurse range from assisting a patient with basic hygiene needs to giving medications, keeping records and teaching patients to care for themselves.
FACT 8: During the American Civil War, men and women left their homes to help with the war effort. Many came to the hospitals. They had no training but learnt on the job how to make the wounded or ill soldiers more comfortable, look after their wounds, feed them and even write letters for them. One of these women Amanda Akin published a book in 1909 ‘The Lady Nurse of Ward 5’
FACT 9: Of the 3.5 million nurses employed In the USA in 2011, 3.2 million were female and 330,000 were male. This is a very low ratio of male to female nurses. However the number of male nurses is increasing. In 1970, 2.7 of all registered nurses in USA were male, but by 2011 the percentage had gone up to 9.6. According to the American Community Survey report issued in Feb 2013, 41% of nurse anaesthetists were male.
FACT 10: On an average male nurses out earn female nurses even in the same nursing occupations. On average male nurses earn $60.700 per year as compared to female nurses who earn an average income of $ 51,100 per year.