"Hollywood Nurses" in West Germany: Biographies, Self-Images, and Experiences of Academically Trained Nurses after 1945

By Kreutzer, Susanne | Nursing History Review, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

"Hollywood Nurses" in West Germany: Biographies, Self-Images, and Experiences of Academically Trained Nurses after 1945


Kreutzer, Susanne, Nursing History Review


Abstract. The School of Nursing at Heidelberg University was founded in 1953 on the initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation to generate new, scientifically trained nursing elite to advance the professionalization of nursing in West Germany. The "American" concept met massive resistance. Its "superior nursing training" was seen as creating "Hollywood nurses"-a threat to the traditional Christian understanding of good, caring nursing. Intense social conflicts also caused problems with other groups of nurses. The school nevertheless played a very important role as a "cadre academy" in the history of professionalization. Many of the first German professors in the nursing sciences trained or underwent further training in Heidelberg.

West German nursing after World War II set no great store by theoretical instruction. A "good" nurse was primarily "good at heart," and tradition had it that a nurse's heart was educated by practical nursing tasks and being part of the community of sisters. Into the early 1950s West German nursing was influenced by the large confessional motherhouse sisterhoods and their tenets of Christian charity.1 Nurses spent most of their training time on the wards and learned the skills they needed, including their work ethics, from experienced colleagues. The lessons in the nursing school classrooms attached to the hospitals were of minor importance. This strong emphasis on practical experience did not only apply to basic nursing training. Head nurses and nursing teachers were qualified based on years of practical experience, not because they attended advanced training courses.2

It was against this backdrop that an entirely new, academically oriented type of school was established in 1953 on the initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation and the American military government. The Heidelberg School of Nursing was affiliated with Heidelberg University's Medical School with the aim of generating a new nursing elite that would advance professionalization of nursing in West Germany. The Rockefeller Foundation initiated similar schools in many other countries.3 In founding the Heidelberg School, the Foundation wanted to promote its public health model-a unified community program focusing on the health of families in their homes with a strong emphasis on prevention and health education.4 Foundation endeavors also served the purpose of denazifying and democratizing postwar Germany. Nurses like physicians, midwives, and other health care professionals were in close contact with the population and were seen as important disseminators of a new democratic thinking.5

The Heidelberg School of Nursing initially provided only basic training; but in the mid-1950s, it was also a training center for nursing teachers. It was the first institution in the Federal Republic of Germany to offer special training in nursing pedagogy. The teacher-nurses of the school were expected to have completed a further training course in the United States.6 In this way, the Heidelberg School played a central part in the transfer of American nursing concepts to West Germany. Graduates were often called "Hollywood" nurses, "Hollies" for short. Although it is not clear how the term originated, the meaning was that the Hollywood nurses, like actors, only pretended to be nurses and were not "real" German nurses. In the West German nursing landscape, the "American" reform school met a strong resistance. It is a good example of the enormous conflicts that could arise from international transfer of nursing and training concepts.

The departments of Nursing Science established at universities and universities of applied sciences since the 1990s have created a specific perspective on the history of the Heidelberg School of Nursing. The resistance to the American reform school has been seen as evidence of the backwardness of German nursing traditions.7 In the eyes of current nurse scientists, the late introduction of higher educational standards in Germany, as compared to the United States, goes back to the strong influence of the Christian view of duty-best exemplified by the motherhouse associations but in the postwar period also held by most nurses in Germany-and the resulting "professional feminine humility. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"Hollywood Nurses" in West Germany: Biographies, Self-Images, and Experiences of Academically Trained Nurses after 1945
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.