Nursing, for example, is considered a noble profession today. Its origin, though, might surprise you. As the first nurses received little formal training and very low pay, nursing attracted women of the lower socioeconomic classes desiring to help others. Many of the first “nurses” were actually prostitutes that male physicians convinced to help the cause, most notably during the Crimean War in the 19th century. Needless to say, nursing was a job low on the scale of social hierarchy, which was emphasized by the doctors of the era, as well.
It wasn’t until Florence Nightingale joined the ranks that the nursing profession and opinions about it began to change. Following her groundbreaking and tireless work during the Crimean War; in 1860, she established her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, the first secular nursing school in the world. Nurses still take the Nightingale Pledge and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated worldwide on her birthday.
More will be available from Dr. Jeanne’s upcoming book, Women’s Ways of Healing: Medicine’s Missing Link due out 2012.