At home, nurses continued to provide essential service to the civilian population. The nursing profession has consistently demonstrated its ability to adapt to changing and varied health care needs. It remains an exceedingly popular and highly respected profession that attracts large numbers of new recruits to its ranks. There is little doubt that nursing will continue to maintain its status as an extremely important profession, serving the health needs of the nation. Today, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and other specialty-area nurses are well established and carry out a significant portion of health care activities. The demand for nursing remains high, and projections suggest that such demand will substantively increase. Advances in health care technology, rising expectations of people seeking care, and reorganization of health care systems require a greater number of highly educated professionals. Demographic changes, such as large aging populations in many countries of the world, also fuel this demand. In some countries, however, men still remain significantly underrepresented.
Hospitals established their own training schools for nurses. In exchange for lectures and clinical instructions, students provided the hospital with two or three years of skilled free nursing care. This hospital-based educational model had significant long-term implications. It bound the education of nurses to hospitals rather than colleges, a tie that was not definitively broken until the latter half of the 20th century. The hospital-based training model also reinforced segregation in society and in the health care system. For instance, African American student nurses were barred from almost all American hospitals and training schools. They could seek training only in schools established by African American hospitals. Most of all, the hospital-based training model strengthened the cultural stereotyping of nursing as women’s work. Only a few hospitals provided training to maintain men’s traditional roles within nursing.
When you consider becoming a nurse, you may think about the excitement and opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. Both of those things can be true about working as a nurse. But nursing is not like you see on television. Every moment is not exciting, and not every patient encounter will be rewarding. Before you decide to enter nursing school, it is helpful to have a realistic idea of the positives and negatives of working as a nurse.