American Nursing in the 1950s and 1960s

Comparatively young American society has a rich history rife with tremendous achievements, contradictory periods, and prominent events. In particular, the 1950s were a decade labeled by the onset of the Cold War, the post-World War II boom, and the dawn of rock-n-roll. The United States grew into the most potent global military power, and its market was flooded with diverse consumer goods, cars, and properties. Nevertheless, the crusade against communism, the Civil Rights movements, and the surging inequality gap provoke noticeable conflicts and disturbing divisions in the USA.

Likewise, the 1960s were marked as the daybreak of the American golden age when, in 1961, the charismatic and handsome John F. Kennedy became the US president. He strived to improve ordinary Americans’ well-being by introducing the “New Frontier,” a package of reforms and provisions that targeted eliminating inequality and injustice in the United States ( Editors, 2021). However, this dream was not destined to come true, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Bay of Pigs invasion were regarded as the main catastrophes for Kennedy and the whole society.

In this context, the post-World War II era created new challenges and opportunities for the nursing profession. The modern intensive health care system that appeared after the war required an increased number of nurses to manage major patients’ care needs. Herewith, women willing to select nursing as a career were insignificant, despite the that this profession acquired a heroic image due to the war (Whelan, n.d.). The shortage of applicants resulted from the work complexity, poor working conditions, and financial incentives.

Simultaneously, inner debates within the profession stimulated the development of higher education programs. For example, by 1960, 172 nursing colleges granted Bachelors of Science in Nursing degrees (Whelan, n.d.). Furthermore, nurse theorists and researchers indicate that from the 1960s, nursing science was established as an academic discipline (Tobbell, 2018). This, overall, allowed nurses to be more autonomous and better prepared for more complicated issues and assume more advanced roles, including nurse practitioners who delivered various primary care services. Since the 1950s, nurses were in charge of all facets of patient care, such as disinfection, cleaning, laundry, catering, vaccine procedure, and others.

References Editors. (2021). The 1960s History. History. Web.

Tobbell, D. A. (2018). Nursing’s boundary work: Theory development and the making of nursing science, ca. 1950–1980. Nursing Research, 67(2), 63-73.

Whelan, J.C. (n.d.). American nursing: An introduction to the past. University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Web.

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