History And Timeline of the Nursing Profession In Philippines And USA

Nurses for Leiden (Photo credit: mnnetherlands)
Nurses for Leiden (Photo credit: mnnetherlands)

This is a mini trivia about the nursing history of Philippines and America. Although I didn’t cover all of the events and important dates, still, I managed to come up with an article that for sure will interest you.  Here it is.

When it started

19th Century (1880s)
Nursing in both Philippines and the United States of America started in 1880’s in the time of Florence Nightingale’s rise to nursing fame but it is still not a formal profession.

History of nursing in the USA begins with the formation of the Nurse’s Associated Alumnae of the United States when it became apparent that training was necessary to protect the sick and injured from nurses that were incompetent and unable to provide adequate care.

While in the Philippines, it is embedded in the history of the Department of Public Works, Education, and Hygiene in 1898.

Establishment of Nursing Profession’s Associations in each countries

Nurse’s Associated Alumnae of the United States was established in meeting at Baltimore, Maryland in 1897 and was renamed as the now famous American Nurses Association in 1911.

September 2, 1922 as Filipino Nurses Association (FNA) was founded in a meeting of 150 nurses presided by then Anastacia Giron (Mrs. Tupas), the FNA was incorporated in 1924. The International Council of Nurses accepted the FNA as one of the member organizations during the congress held in Montreal, Canada on July 8-13, 1929. The FNA became the PNA (Philippine Nurses Association) in 1966, which was the same year that the office at 1663 F.T. Benitez Street, Malate, Manila was inaugurated.

Reemergence of need of nursing profession

World War II
With the onset of World War II, there was a re-emergence of nursing needs as well as new programs to entice women into training. They were offered tuition, books, housing, and stipends if they would train as nurses and help with the war efforts. These recruitment efforts were handled by the US Cadet Nurses Corps from 1943 to 1948.

In 1941 in the Philippines, when World War 2 broke out, public health nurses in Manila were assigned to devastated areas to attend the sick and the wounded. In July 1942, the thirty one nurses who were taken prisoners of war by the Japanese army and confined at the Bilibid Prison in Manila were released to the Director of the Bureau of Health. Many public health nurses joined the guerillas or went to hide in the mountains during World War 2.

Post War Records and the Emergence of Nursing Laws/Act

In the Philippines, 1946 post war records of the Bureau of Health showed that there were 308 public health nurses and 38 supervisors compared to the pre-war 556 public health nurses and 38 supervisors. In the same year Mrs. Genera De Guzman, technical assistant in nursing of the Department of Health and concurrent President of the Filipino Nurses Association recommended the creation of a Nursing Office in the Department of Health. From then onwards, recreation and improvement for the nursing profession in the Philippines were established. In 1953, The Philippine Nursing Law, otherwise known as Republic Act 877 was enacted. Provisions included the organization of the Board of examiners for nurses, provisions regarding nursing schools and colleges, examination, registration of nurses including sundry provisions relative to the practice of nursing. Some portions of this law was amended in the year 1996, 1970, to the 1991 “Philippine Nursing Act” which had redefined the scope of nursing and reestablished a new requirements for the Board of Nursing and Nursing Faculties. It was again amended on July 22, 2002 as the latest Philippine Nursing Law.

After the war ended in the United States, the 1950s ushered in the ‘baby boom’ during which more health care was needed for the ever-growing population. Nurses were in high demand like never before, as more than 75 million infants were born from 1946 to 1964. Complicating the demand surge, some nurses opted to get married and stay home with their new family, leading to a shortage in care. 1951, the Nursing Act in USA was established. It is related to the practice of professional nursing, providing for the licensing of nurses and for the revocation and suspension of such licenses. This law was amended in the year 1959. The 1960s brought Medicare and Medicaid to the country, allowing more people to receive health care. And while the fight for fair wages and hours raged on for nurses, the overall nursing field was still in high demand and growing each year. The 1970s showed an expansion of the nursing fields, allowing for more specialties as well as the need for nurses in Vietnam. On December 9, 2002, the nursing law was again amended. It is known as the latest “The Professional Nursing Law”. The law for nurses was expanded and more regulated than the previous laws.

Establishment of Education

Early 1990s
Several states in America passed nurse licensure laws, including New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey. Shorter training hours were established as well as stricter qualifications for getting into nursing school. For instance, one prerequisite was at least one year of high school education. The idea of having students work in a more active role prior to seeing patients was a new idea that was beginning to pay off.

In the Philippines, it was also early 1990’s when the first school for nursing was established. The program of study was still shattered and unclear. Only few students are enrolled informally to this kind of education. A legislation or law was clearly needed at the time, contributing to the establishment of the First True Nursing Law in 1919, Act 2808.

Final Thoughts

Nursing has been around for centuries, but it was not always considered a profession. Though the women of many households were accustomed to treating ill members of their family, they were not trained in the medical arts, but rather relied on handed down information from their mothers and grandmothers. However, as time passed and the value of women in nursing professions became more apparent predispose by the events in our nursing history, the building blocks of the nursing profession and formal training were laid out.

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Ron Leyba loves to blog about anything related to Filipinos specially foods and recipes. Visit his article about the 5 Pinoy Recipes to Enhance Your Love Life at his personal blog.