Look how far we've come

The history of nursing’s growth into the largest and one of the most important professions in healthcare is one nurses can be very proud of.
Fueled by change and the educational advances nursing made in response to it is a vital part of our history. In this Digital Resource Guide, we look at higher education today and the many and varied academic opportunities still ahead for us.
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It all began with Nightingale
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN, is the former senior vice president and chief nurse executive at OnCourse Learning. Williamson continues to write for Nurse.com and serve in an advisory role.
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Nightingale’s school wrote the first page in nursing education’s history book. Similar models arose after that in England and the U.S. By the turn of the century more than 400 schools were open here, and before long the first university-based nursing baccalaureate program opened at the University of Michigan. From there, up through the mid-20th century, healthcare changed each decade, and nursing changed with it. The 1950s brought Mildred Montag’s proposal for a technical nurse program leading to an associate’s degree from a community college. In the 1960s, dialogue began on a proposal to make the baccalaureate degree minimum preparation for RN licensure and entry into practice, and was followed by proposals to phase out diploma programs and require associate degree nurses to hold separate technical nurse licenses. By the late ‘60s and ‘70s diploma program numbers were declining and being replaced by associate degree programs. Nursing graduation numbers increased; more nurses pursued BSNs; the number of master’s-prepared nurses grew; and many new nursing programs opened. Nurses were working on advanced degrees at the post-master’s and doctoral levels and getting involved in research. The number of advanced practice degrees started to rise, and new roles like clinical nurse specialists, NPs, and DNPs appeared. The only slowdown in education of any kind came in the early 1990s when the great nursing shortage and fear of more shortages hit, and moves to make the BSN mandatory for entry into practice were put on hold.
Moving to another century
As the 21st century began, the change underway in healthcare was again the impetus for nursing education to move ahead. In 2010, The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report on the Future of Nursing called for higher levels of educational preparation for nurses to meet healthcare needs; the legislative proposal known as the “BSN in 10” appeared in NY; and employers began looking to hire only BSN nurses and created incentives for their nurses to get BSNs. Technology was on the rise with Smart Phones and tablets at work, and just about everything was becoming computerized. Forecasts of patient care moving to the community created new roles for nurses and patient care models were being re-engineered to meet patient care needs. Nursing curricula added topics like Evidence Based Practice (EBP), Informatics, Interprofessional education and practice, simulation, and a whole new lexicon of acronyms and terms. Research findings, including Aiken’s well-known work, was demonstrating outcomes improved when nurses were BSN-prepared, All of these trends and movements were changing nursing education.
A future brighter than ever
The face of nursing education has changed over the past 150 years, as nursing moved through three centuries and made academic advances too numerous to count. We earned diplomas and associate degrees; bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees; professional certifications, and countless continuing education credits, and continually grew nursing’s body of research and advanced our clinical skills. We took on new roles, responsibilities and titles in a variety of specialties and work settings — and the value we’ve always placed on education and educators has been at the heart of it all.
The strides we’ve made required determination, foresight, strategic and critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, and leadership and teaching skills. And we’re not done yet. We will continue to move ahead academically and acquire new knowledge to apply to our practice in ways that will do more for patients and healthcare than we could ever have dreamed possible a century and half ago.
A new century and new models
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To appreciate how far we’ve come, we need look only to Nightingale. It was she who took us from, “Notes on Nursing” to nursing care plans; dressings to doctorates; bedpans to board rooms.”
- Eileen Williamson, RN
A little more than 150 years ago, formal nursing education began with Florence Nightingale’s establishment of the first hospital-based nursing school. Before then, patients were cared for at home by “nurse” relatives who carried out tasks given them by physicians. To appreciate how far we’ve come, we need look only to Nightingale. It was she who took us from, “Notes on Nursing” to nursing care plans; dressings to doctorates; bedpans to board rooms. Seeing nursing as her God-given calling, she defied the norms of the day and her station in life to pursue her call. Fueled by strong desire and prepared by the education her wealthy family gave her, she schooled herself in how nurses should be educated and began her work ministering to soldiers during the Crimean War of the 1850s. With her leadership skills, teaching abilities and interest in careers with opportunities for women, she established the St. Thomas Hospital Nightingale Nurses Training School in London in the 1860s, the first in-hospital nursing school.

Nursing education has a rich history and a bright future

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By Eileen P. Williamson
MSN, RN
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© 2017 OnCourse Learning Corp. All rights reserved
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Contents
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Take charge in negotiations
Negotiating your salary can have a huge impact on lifetime earnings.
Market, culture influence pay
Find out what drives pay rates in the healthcare market.
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Look beyond pay rates
Cost of living can make a huge impact on your take-home pay.
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CE COURSE: Interview like a pro
Ace a job interview with this comprehensive CE module.
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A special kind of compensation
Never underestimate the value of thanks from patients, families.
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CE catalog
Learn how to switch specialties, build your network and more.
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Travel nursing's special perks
Find out what attracts nurses to this specialty.
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Nurse staffing's future course
Nurse shines light on how what specialties will be in high demand.
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RN salaries always a hot topic
Learn more about issues that can help you increase your salary.
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Revisit the Equal Pay Act
There's still work to be done in reaching equal pay across genders.
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CE Catalog
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Learn new ways to teach, switch your specialty and more!
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The benefits of an FNP
Discover the many professional paths available with an FNP.
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Degree status update
Discover how nursing degrees...
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CE COURSE: The APRN role
This CE module provides complete info about AP nursing roles.
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A cure for the nursing shortage
Nursing schools are working hard to combat the nurse faculty shortage.
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Nursing's come a long way
Take a trip back in time with this journey through nursing education.
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Consider a PhD
Find out why a PhD degree may be right for you.
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Get ahead of the competition
An advanced degree provides an competitive edge in the workforce.
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Nursing education a must
Learn why an advanced degree is necessary in today's nursing world.
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Traits of an advanced practice
Empathy and fearlessness are just two of the traits of an AP nurse.
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Shape tomorrow's nurse leaders
Nursing faculty have a hand in shaping students into leaders.
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The shift to DNP
A DNP degree is a viable choice in higher nursing education.
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