4 fun facts about nursing a century ago


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Remember that old cigarette slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby”? Not only have women come a long way, but so have nurses. Imagine how lost Florence Nightingale would feel if she were time-warped into this century!

Below are some fun facts about the early days at the prestigious Johns Hopkins nursing school and hospital.

  • Johns Hopkins, the director of the nation’s first major railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio, was responsible for one of the most prestigious nursing schools in the country. It’s true. Hopkins, a philanthropist, bequeathed upon his death the largest donation ever in the United States ($7 million) to the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The School of Nursing opened at the same time as the hospital, in 1889.
  • Back in Hopkins’ day, nursing wasn’t for slackers. On average, nurses worked 56 hours per week. For their hard work, the nurses were granted one shopping day around Christmas time. Of course, if they had online shopping back then, maybe the administrators would have thought that the one full day was excessive….
  • Social life? What social life? With a workday that didn’t end until 7 p.m., and with a curfew at 10 p.m., a social life was pretty much a pipe dream for many nurses. The three hours off didn’t even give the nurses enough time to go see a full movie feature!
  • Thinking of getting married? Only do so if you want to be told you can no longer work as a nurse. Until 1942, when nurses were needed during wartime, nurses were forbidden to marry. However, with their strict social policies (shift ending at 7 p.m. and curfew at 10 p.m.), one wonders how the nurses would have met someone anyway!


Marijke Durning
Marijke is a professional writer who began her working career as a registered nurse over 25 years ago. After working in clinical areas ranging from rehab to intensive care, as a floor nurse to a supervisor, she found she could combine her extensive health knowledge with her love of writing. Although she has been published in a wide variety of publications for professionals and the general public, her passion is writing for the every day person to promote health literacy.

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