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Nursing History Theory and Timeline

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Introduction - the history of nursing dates back to the Florence Nightingale era and much of its development can be attributed to these humble beginnings. However, over the past century Nursing as an independent science has converged into a rich culture of theoretical perspectives which have positively impacted the profession. In the following pages of this paper the writer will give a time line of significant events within the past century which has shaped its history. Conclusively, insights into the construction of nursing theories which have defined nursing as both a science and profession would be discussed.


1912- American Red Cross Association establishes 68 National Rural Visiting Nurse Service programs providing home nurses to 10.5Million policy holders within United States and Canada.

1916 - Education- The Royal College of Nursing [RNC] is established in England and is chartered by Queen Elizabeth.

1918 - American Red Cross Association- Frances Reed Elliot becomes the first African America woman to be accepted into the American Red Cross Nursing Service.

1919 - Regulation of the Nursing- Nurses Registration Act. This act was passed in many countries of the world including United States Of America whereby nursing officially were recognized as profession and the title nurse to be ascribed to the practice. The first to pass the law was Newland as early as 1901.Ethel Fennick becomes the first Registered Nurse in the United Kingdom.

1923 - Education-Yale School of Nursing becomes the first Nursing School in America.

1951 - Males are admitted to the Nursing Register in Great Britain and the National Association of Colored Nurse joins the American Nurses Association.

1956 -Education - Columbia University of Nursing becomes the first to grant a Masters Degree of Nursing in America.

1971 - Hospice - specialist nursing intervention for the dying is established in America.

2004 - Hospice- Clinical Practice Guidelines for quality Palliative Care is published by the National Consensus Project [‘National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization,’  2010]

2010 - Nursing Stratification- Nursing Practitioners, Registered Nurses; Public Health Nurses; Licensed Practical Nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants; Home health aids.


In the beginning Nursing was a non professional practice but the development of theories has greatly influenced its advancement as a science in the past century. Of critical importance to theoretical restructuring of this discipline are Betty Neuman’s Systems Model; Helen Cook Erickson’s Modeling and Role Modeling and Joyce Fitzpatrick’s Taxonomy of classification.

The Systems Model posits a holistic interpretation of nursing intervention. Nueman builds on the concept of safe environment established by Florence Nightingale’s theoretical approach to elaborate on nursing process accounting for nursing diagnosis which was an unclassified element of the Nursing process. [‘Neuman Systems Model’, 2010]                    

Collaborating on this holistic concept of the nursing continuum Ellen Cook formulated the Modeling and Role Modeling theoretical perspective to propose that health Care providers need to connect with clients advancing conceptual frameworks showing the effects of energy on relationships supporting a Florence Nightingale perspective of the internal and external environment. Like Helen Neuman she supports the concept of holism but sees it in reference to energetic relationships through modeling and role modeling.

Joyce Fitzpatrick’s taxonomy has brought clarity to assessment measures by introducing classification as a technique in helping nurses interpret the judgments they make within the process itself or management of it. With modernization and social change, Fitzpatrick’s approach to the discipline’s reconstruction through theory, emphasized the importance of advanced educational research to evaluate nursing intervention procedures. [“An overview of Joyce Fitzpatrick’s. Theory”.2010]


Throughout nursing theoretical development one theme has sustained its progression. It is the desire to improve Patient Care relationships by a better understanding of the patient and how the Nurse’s attitudes and perceptions of self affect outcomes.

Foundations of nursing theories have filtered through to modern times in the form of a holistic approach to patient care interventions. Even though the term holistic was not coined in the Florence Nightingale era it was represented in her environment concept of wellness when she included the external and internal environment as part of her conceptual framework.


Websites  -Biographies of Women Mathematicians: Florence Nightingale. Retrieved 15th March 


-Erickson, Helen Cook [1936]. Modeling and Role Modeling. Retrieved 15th March, 2010.

-Fitzpatrick, Joyce. [1944] The Rhythm Model. Cardinal Switch University Library Retreived15th March, 2010.

-History of Home Nursing. Retrieved 15th March, 2010

-Home Care In Florida: Retrieved 15 March 2010.


-Neuman Systems Model. Retrieved 15th March 2010.

-The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Retrieved 12th March, 2010.


-100-Years Timeline of World History, Nursing, Medicine and Science. Retrieved 15th March, 2010.

More about this author: Cecelia Kendall

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