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Nursing History

By moomoo2020 Sep 28, 2012 829 Words


• History can be defined as:
“A study of events from the past leading up to the present time” • The study of history focuses on the chronology of events and their impact throughout time. • The development and evolution of the nursing profession is connected to historical influences throughout the ages, beginning in antiquity.


1. Helping to understand the societal forces and issues facing the profession 2. Gaining an appreciation of the role the profession played in the healthcare system 3. Describing the influence of societal trends on the development of nursing as a profession 4. Identifying the contributions of selected leaders in the nursing profession

Nursing in Antiquity (ancient Times)

General Characteristics of the Period
1. The role of nursing care was assigned to different people such as females because of their caring role as mothers, and to medicine men, shamans and Attars 2. The earliest nurses learned their art through oral traditions passed from generation to generation and through the process of trial and error 3. The first organized groups of nurses were during the early Christian era 4. The nursing role was given to the deaconess which means a servant or helper

Highlights Of Health Care Practices in Antiquity

In Egypt

• Earliest medical records (3000 B.C.)
• 700 classified drugs
• Physicians were skilled in treating fractures, filling teeth and classifying drugs • Midwives practiced obstetrics

• Developed Mosaic Code of organized method of disease prevention. • Talmudic regulations for slaughtering of animals, childbirth and hygiene. • Isolated people with communicable diseases.


• Gentlemen paid surgeons with silver coins for surgery
• Believed illness a punishment for sin and used incantations to purify body • Surgery was more advanced than internal medicine
• Practiced magic and superstition to treat evil spirits occupying ill bodies Assyria/ Assure (2300 B.C.)

• Believed in good and evil spirits and in many Gods
• Ill health was seen as a punishment for sin

• They had three types of Physicians
o Those who healed by the knife
o Those who healed with herbs
o Those who healed through exorcism


• Hippocrates was Grecian and became known as the “Father of Modern Medicine” to which the Hippocratic Oath attributed

• Believed disease always had a specific cause that could be discovered by examination and analysis

• They usually blamed disease on blood, phlegm, yellow or black bile.

• Built institutions to care for travellers, sick and injured called Xendochium (hospital)


• First public hospital in 380 B.C.

• Aristotle distinguished arteries from veins.

• Physicians were often slaves (Gladiato-physician)

• Prepared more than 600 preparations of herbal remedies

• Practiced advanced hygiene and sanitation


• Health practices were written in the “Vedas” around 1600 B.C. • Had systems of sanitation, bathrooms, public baths
• Emphasized hygiene, prevention of sickness, major and minor surgery, paediatric illness, childhood vaccinations, medicinal preparations, nervous and urinary system diseases. China

• Developed concept of “yin and yang”
• Used many drugs still used today such as Ephedrine
• Developed acupuncture skills still in practice today
• Studied circulation and developed examination method ( look, listen, ask, feel) • Dissection was performed before 200 B.C.
The Americas
• Health viewed as a balance between man, nature and the supernatural. • Cremation ceremonies, herbal treatments, and human sacrifice among healing practices • Medicine men called Shamans were responsible for curing ills of body and mind.

The influence of Christianity

Early Christian Orders of Women
• The deaconesses were the nursing care providers with charity and mercy • The deaconesses functioned as visiting nurses and social workers and were women of high social status • One of the most important deaconesses was Phoebe who lived about 55 A.D. and is remembered as the first visiting nurse and the first deaconess Early Christian Hospitals

• The bishops provided a place of shelter and refuge by opening their own homes to the sick • They only provided shelter, food, and nursing care, but little medical care was available • Hygienic conditions were poor

• Social services were not provided nor were doctors available in these early Christian hospitals. • Around 330 A.D. a large hospital was founded by Emperor Constantine the Great Early Christian Nursing Leaders

• Hospital-type home was known as a hospis providing care and shelter for pilgrimages • In the middle of the fourth century some women of Roman nobility converted their spacious homes into hospices or hospitals • Marcella turned her home into a convent and become known as the "mother of nuns." • Fabiola built the first general hospital in Rome about 380 A.D. • Paula considered the most learned woman of this period, entered Marcella's convent and cared for the sick Monastic Medicine and Nursing

• After the end of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. Europe was divided into many kingdoms • Religious groups were taking care of the sick as part of their duties • Nursing duties were performed by monks and nuns

• Medicine practiced by Monks with little scientific basis • Emphasis was placed on comforting the sick and the ill by recitation of prayers for saintly interventions

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