A Historical Perspective of the Development of Graduate Education for Nursing in the United States and Its Reflection on Two Early Graduate Programs
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Schank, Mary Jane
Research into the development of graduate education for nursing in the United States is limited because such education developed in a variety of settings. This investigation examines social, economic, political, and scientific forces influencing graduate education for nursing in 1899 and 1939. The problem statement is, "What were the major forces that created the demand for graduate education for nursing at Teachers College in 1899 and at Marquette University in 1939?" Qualitative historical research was the method for investigation. The social, economic, political, and scientific forces that influenced education for nursing included: changes in social mores from the Victorian Era to the Progressive Era; advances in science and technology; acceptance of women in the work force; and Florence Nightingale's success both in the Crimea and with her book, Notes on Nursing: what it is and what it is not . As a result of Nightingale's publication, American women became conscious of nursing principles, and petitioned to serve on the Civil War's Sanitary Commission. After the war, these women visited hospitals and helped found the first Nightingale Schools in America. Graduates of these schools became superintendents of training schools, and as members of the newly formed Superintendents' Society, later to become the National League of Nursing Education, created the program at Teachers College to educate nurses as teachers and superintendents. Graduates from Teachers College supervised hospitals and training schools, and contributed to the development of graduate programs in nursing. The emergence of Marquette's graduate program for nursing in 1939 reflected the growing emphasis on graduate education, with the new trend of educating nurses for teaching and research. From 1899 to 1939, nursing moved its preparation from "training" to "education," encouraged educated women to pursue nursing, and raised the social consciousness of its members. It was the women of the Civil War's Sanitary Commission, responding to social, economic, political, and scientific forces, who initiated training for nursing in the United States. And it was nursing leaders, responding to these same forces, who influenced the emergence of education, and ultimately graduate education, for the profession.