Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Nursing in America: A History of Social Reform

Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Nursing in America: A History of Social Reform

Article excerpt

Nursing in America: A History ofSocial Refonn. 1990. Insight Media, Producer and Director Tony Ely. Insight Media, 2162 Broadway, New York, NY 10024. www.insight-media.com

My review of Nursing in America: A History of Social Reform visual media for university and high school classrooms comes over 20 years after its cre- ation by the National League for Nursing, and the nature of technologic ad- vances creates a feeling of obsolescence around this film. Despite the technical challenges older media present, however, the film does present an engaging overview of the history of American nurses, which can be mastered very quickly by most secondary school students.

The film unites the story of American nurses under the oversimplified umbrella theme of social reform, and tags advances in nursing practice to major social and political events. The film begins with nursing's origins in pri- vate care for the ill in their homes, and tracks the changes in nursing education and practice through the 20th century. The filmmakers present the develop- ing nursing profession in relation to an assortment of U.S. social movements including women's suffrage, the civil rights movement, immigration, and industrialization. Particular attention is paid to important figures such as Lavinia Dock, Isabelle Hampton Robb, Adelaide Nutting, Margaret Sanger, and Virginia Henderson, as well as institutions including Teacher's College, Johns Hopkins, and the Frontier Nursing Service. The filmmakers have used these social movements to explain particular areas of change in nursing prac- tice such as the rise of critical care units, the beginnings of nursing research, the desegregation of nursing, as well as the changes brought about by mili- tary action including the Spanish-American War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War. The film ends with the development of the Nurse Practitioner role. Transitions between periods is as smooth as possible given the time span of more than a century, and some important areas are omitted entirely, includ- ing any discussion of men in nursing.

This narrated DVD features some of the leaders of the history of nurs- ing, namely Virginia Henderson, Ellen Baer, Joan Lynaugh, and Elizabeth Carnegie. Although video clips and photographs of leading nursing figures and historic events illustrate and bring the stories of nurses to life, these giants of nursing history eloquently articulate the trials, triumphs, and tribulations of our founding mothers and carry the story of nurses to nearly present day. …

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