Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay

Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay

Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay

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1. The role of men in nursing appears to be circular, from eleventh- to thirteenth-century Europe when they supplied much of the nursing care to Nightingale’s time when the male role was confined to supplying physical strengths to today when about 8% of students enrolled in nursing programs are men. Discuss what can be done to complete the circle or at least close the gap in gender in nursing.

2. Review the progression of nursing during the 20th century and write your opinion of one thing that had the most effect upon the profession and why.

3.In 1896, the first convention of the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada was held. In 1911, this organization became the American Nurses Association. When was the Men Nurses’ Section of the ANA formed?

4. Review the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) research more about the organization. Discuss why was this organization formed? Who were the founders?

5. How did each of these great women influence nursing?
1. Isabel Hampton Robb
2. Ethel Bedford Fenwick
3. Sallie Thompkins
4. Florence Nightingale
5. Dorothea Dix
6. Mary Eliza Mahoney
7. Linda Richards
8. Clara Barton

Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay

Making History: Black Nightingales

Mar 30, 2013 | Black and African-American Nurses, Magazine

Mary SeacoleMary Seacole

The history of black women in the nursing profession is a story of women of color fighting to overcome racial, social and economic injustice. In their efforts to obtain appropriate and professional health care education, these women also sought to acquire professional acceptance from their white counterparts.


One of the earliest women of color to serve as a caregiver was Mary Seacole, who was born in 1805 in Kingston, Jamaica. She had no formal training as a nurse but she learned all she knew from her mother, who was a well-known “healer” in the Kingston area. As a child, Seacole watched her mother work, took in all the knowledge she could and practiced whatever she learned on her doll. If there were a disease prevalent in Kingston, her poor doll would “contract” it. After a while Seacole extended her caregiving to dogs, cats and other animals.


Eventually she felt that she had learned enough and could move on to treating human patients. But because of her race, she would never get that opportunity. Seacole was forced to go to Europe in order to receive professional training and recognition. In 1856, during the Crimean War, she established a facility called the British Hotel at her own expense to provide caregivers, medical attention, food and comfortable sleeping areas for the sick and wounded.


Another woman of color who served as a nurse during wartime was the famous Civil War nurse, Susie King Taylor. She was born in 1848, a slave under Georgia law. It was illegal for slaves to be educated, but she and 30 other children were taught how to read and write by her grandmother’s friend Mrs. Woodhouse, a free woman of color. As a teenager, King began to teach other “colored” children.



King gained her freedom when she was about 14 years old. Her uncle decided to take the family and get away, so they jumped into a boat passing Georgia’s Fort Pulaski. They were captured by Union forces and were enlisted into the newly formed regiment of black soldiers. King was appointed laundress of the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops, but her duties began to expand because of her nursing skills and her ability to read and write. Susie King Taylor documented her experiences as a teacher, laundress and nurse during the conflict in a book entitled Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd United States Colored Troops. She died in 1912.


These women were not afforded the opportunity to receive formal nursing training, but they did open doors for other nurses of color who would follow in their footsteps, including the first African-American woman to graduate from an accredited nursing institution, Mary Eliza Mahoney.


A Legacy of Leadership

Mahoney was born in Dorchester, Mass., in 1845. She began her interest in nursing as a teenager. She also found employment as a teenager at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. For 15 years she served the hospital in a variety of capacities, including cook, janitor and washerwoman. She eventually gained the respect and confidence of hospital officials and was allowed to work as a nurse’s assistant, even though she did not have formal training. Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay


However, in 1878, at the age of 33, Mahoney was admitted as a nursing student in the same hospital where she had devoted almost two decades of service. During her matriculation, the institution’s policy was that only one African-American student and one Jewish student could be enrolled in each training class. In 1879, out of 42 students who started the program with her, Mahoney was one of only four students who completed the rigorous course.


After graduating, Mahoney registered in the Nurses Directory at the Massachusetts Medical Library. This acknowledged her as a formally trained nurse. She left the New England Hospital for Women and Children and began working as a private duty nurse who traveled and provided medical assistance to patients in the New England area.


In 1896 Mahoney became a member of the predominately white Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (later known as the American Nurses Association). Because of racial discrimination, especially in the South, the organization rarely admitted African-American nurses. This inspired Mahoney to co-found the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908. Two other important founding members were Martha Franklin and Adah Belle Samuel Thoms. Among the association’s goals were to advocate for more opportunities for formal training for African-American nurses and to eventually integrate the nursing profession.



A year after its founding, Mahoney gave the welcoming address at the NACGN’s first convention. In 1911, while working as director of the Howard Orphan Asylum for Black Children in Kings Park, Long Island, Mahoney also served the association as its national chaplain. That same year, the NACGN awarded her a lifetime membership.


Mahoney, who never married, retired in 1922 but continued to participate in the NACGN’s activities until her death from breast cancer in 1926. Because of her contributions and her leadership in fighting for racial integration in the nursing profession, in 1936 the association created an award in her honor. When the NACGN merged with the American Nurses Association in 1951, the ANA continued to bestow the Mary Mahoney award. Fifty years after her death, Mahoney was inducted into the ANA’s Nursing Hall of Fame. In 1993 she was inducted into National Women’s Hall of Fame.


Although white nurses such as Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton are celebrated throughout history, these “Black Nightingales” also deserve to be acknowledged. Their contributions to the medical and nursing professions are just as worthy of recognition.



  1. Seacole, Mary and Andrews, William. Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (Oxford University Press, 1988).


  1. Hine, Darlene Clark; Brown, Elsa Barkley and Terborg-Penn, Rosalyn (Eds.). Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Volumes 1 and 2 (Indiana University Press, 1993).


  1. University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey. Black Nurses in History–A Bibliography and Guide to Web Resources (Web site),


  1. Bois, Donuta. “Mary Eliza Mahoney” (1997). Distinguished Women of Past and Present (Web site),


  1. American Nurses Association. ANA Hall of Fame: Mary Eliza Mahoney (Web site),

Male Nurses Break Through Barriers to Diversify Profession

    • September 28, 2011

Derived from a Latin word that means to nourish or suckle a child, the word “nurse” has a long and deep cultural association with women.

Yet men have played a vital—albeit often overlooked—role in the history of the nursing profession; they attended the world’s first nursing school in India in 250 B.C., started a hospital to provide nursing care during the Black Plague epidemic, and tended to the sick, injured, wounded and impoverished over the millennia, according to an online historical timeline.

Now, at the dawn of the third millennium, more men are going into a profession they helped create some 2,000 years ago. Nurses, and the patients they serve, will benefit if they do, according to a report released last year by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Men provide unique perspectives and skills that are important to the profession and society at large, according to the IOM report, called . The nursing profession, the report states, needs to place a greater emphasis on recruiting more men to the field to meet a larger goal of a more diverse nursing workforce.

“Patients are much more receptive to health care providers of similar cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and that may well translate to gender as well,” says Vernell DeWitty, PhD, MBA, RN. DeWitty is deputy director of , a program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that supports students in accelerated baccalaureate and master’s nursing programs, which tend to attract relatively high numbers of men. Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay

Randy Jones, PhD, RN, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Virginia and an RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar who is conducting research into prostate cancer screening and treatment, echoes the sentiment. Male patients, he says, may feel more comfortable discussing certain conditions, especially those related to sexual and reproductive health, with other men than with women.

Men are urgently needed in the profession for another key reason, DeWitty and others say: a looming nursing shortage that is projected to grow to 260,000 nurses by 2025, according to a 2009 article in Health Affairs. “The shortage of the future will likely not be solved unless men are part of the equation,” says William T. Lecher, RN, MS, MBA, president of the . “We really have to figure out how to provide more gender inclusion and balance in the nursing workforce.” Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay

Men Make Slow Inroads in Female Preserve

The demographics of nursing are beginning to change. In 1980, there were 45,060 male nurses, according to the IOM report; by 2004, that number jumped to 168,181. Today, men comprise just over 7 percent of all RNs, and that number is projected to grow; more than 11 percent of students in nursing baccalaureate programs in the 2010-2011 school year were men, reports the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Despite auspicious signs for men in nursing, significant barriers remain. The public image of a nurse continues to be a White woman in a white dress and a white cap. And the news, advertising and entertainment industries, meanwhile, play up “feminine” traits associated with nursing, which often has the effect of turning men off to the field. Nursing is “usually projected as this nurturing, very soft, very caring kind of profession,” DeWitty says.

A 2005 survey of men in nursing backed up that assertion. Male nurse respondents indicated they were influenced by the misperception that the profession is not “appropriate” for men. These misconceptions are spread by the media, according to The Truth About Nursing, a website that critiques media portrayals of nurses. One prime example comes from the popular Meet the Parents movie trilogy, where Greg Focker, a male nurse character, fends off suggestions that he is an unfit mate because of his career choice. Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay

One area that can have especially high barriers is obstetrics and gynecology. Elias Provencio-Vasquez, RN, MS, PhD, an RWJF  (2009) and dean of the nursing school at the University of Texas in El Paso, met with resistance from some female patients in the maternity ward early in his career. “I remember back then when I was doing my labor and delivery rotation in the hospital, some patients had some hesitation because we were men,” he recalls. “But we overcame that by presenting ourselves as students, and our faculty members were very professional and very supportive.”

The public attitude toward male nurses plays out in everyday life, Lecher adds. Men in nursing are often presumed to be physicians or asked why they opted against medical school “as if it is not appropriate or socially OK to have chosen nursing,” he says.

Jones has experienced the affront on numerous occasions in his clinic and at interprofessional conferences. But instead of taking offense when patients or colleagues assume he is a physician, he sees it as a teaching moment. “It gives me the opportunity to speak to them about being a male nurse and how that percentage is increasing throughout the nation and worldwide. We provide excellent care just like any other provider.”

Other barriers to men in nursing include a lack of male role models and mentors in nursing schools and health care organizations, DeWitty says.

One of the best ways to knock down some of these barriers is by transforming the nurse education system, according to the IOM report. It urges academic nurse leaders to partner with health care organizations, school systems and other community organizations to recruit and advance nursing students from underrepresented groups. It also calls on private and public funders to expand loans and grants for accelerated degree nursing programs and second-degree nursing students, who are disproportionately male.

The Foundation launched a massive, multifaceted campaign last year to implement the IOM report recommendations, called the . It also supports workforce diversity programs such as New Careers in Nursing, which has granted 38 percent of its scholarships to men.

The American Assembly of Men in Nursing, meanwhile, has launched a recruitment initiative to encourage more men to enter nursing school. Through this initiative, called 20 x 20: Choose Nursing, it awards scholarships to undergraduate and graduate male nursing students; recognizes excellent nursing schools for men; and has created a poster advertising campaign designed to appeal to men. The group is also active in the work of the  and is helping to advance the IOM report’s diversity recommendations. Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay

Another key way to diversify the profession is through personal appeals to students—an effort that Jones makes on a regular basis. Once or twice a semester, Jones speaks to children in elementary and primary school so they can better appreciate the diversity within the profession. “When the students see me, an African American male who is also a nurse, they see an opportunity,” he says.

The economy will play a huge role as well, experts said. Nursing, the largest profession in the health care workforce, offers comparatively stable employment and relatively high wages at a time when many other industries are contracting. “We certainly have seen a lot of men laid off, or want a more stable secure job,” Provencio-Vasquez says, and that may draw more men to the field.

Demand for nursing services is projected to surge as the population ages and the health care reform law takes effect, increasing access to care for tens of millions of people.

“One day, men might actually make up 50 percent of the nursing workforce, in a similar way that women have been able to enroll and work in law, engineering and medicine,” Lecher says. “That would be true gender inclusion and balance.”

Module 1 Historical and Social Context of Nursing Essay

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