Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

Nursing and Defense--The Schools and the Defense

by Isabel M. Stewart - 1941

During the summer of 1940 the faculty of Teachers College developed the Creed of Democracy under the leadership of Professor Thomas H. Briggs. This and the associated documents have had a far-flung influence. Every department of Teachers College probably has members on Defense Committees and Emergency Committees and in similar activities in their particular fields—members who will gladly be of service to teachers and school administrators anywhere by furnishing information on specific questions. To facilitate the process of getting together persons interested in the same fields, Dean William F. Russell asked Professor Paul R. Mort to serve as a correlating agent. As a result, several committees were appointed. During the year additional faculty members were drawn into various defense activities outside the College. Conferences of the committee chairmen during the Summer School of 1941 led to the plan of holding a meeting at which persons concerned with various aspects of the defense problem would present brief statements of their activities. The purpose was to help teachers build a picture of what might be done by the schools on their own initiative. Professor Benjamin R. Andrews was instrumental in preparing the present document to supplement these verbal statements with brief accounts of what some of the Teachers College Staff are doing in defense work and with suggestions of services that teachers everywhere can render to promote community stability and welfare at present and also the protection and improvement of the position of America on into the post-emergency period. Teachers should be ready to initiate local leadership in their own communities by consulting with municipal officials and bringing together informal groups to canvass the local situation, getting in touch with their governors and such national agencies as may be necessary, in order to provide local committees to undertake such community services.

Everyone understands that nurses are indispensable in national defense and that an adequate supply must be assured for the armed forces as well as for essential civilian needs. The primary responsibility for estimating demand and supply and trying to balance them lies with the nursing profession, but the general public must help also and the teaching profession can do a great deal by interpreting certain facts to the public and by helping in the recruiting of more student nurses to keep up the supply.

Nurses have about as many organizations as teachers. In order- to coordinate their defense activities they have formed the Nursing Council on National Defense which represents all the main professional groups and government nursing services, and is located at National Nursing Headquarters, 1790 Broadway, New York. The Nursing Information Bureau, which answers inquiries and supplies vocational literature on nursing, is at the same address.

Nurses started at once to study their resources. A national inventory was made of professional nurses, both active and inactive. Although the results are not yet available, we know that the country has over 300,000 nurses in active service—twice as many as were available in the first World War. It has 85,000 students in training—38,000 entering nursing schools last year, and 24,000 graduating. In addition, it has probably 100,000 practical nurses who care for certain types of cases—the chronic, convalescent, and mildly ill. There are now a few vocational schools training practical nurses, but the number of students is not available.

Briefly, the plan for economizing and extending the present supply of nurses is:

1. To salvage and bring back into service married and retired nurses who are willing to take the places of younger nurses going into Army service. Refresher courses are given to prepare these inactive nurses for active service. More than 4,000 additional nurses have already gone into the Army and more will be needed at the rate of one for every 270 enlisted men.

2. To increase by at least 10 per cent the number of nurses in professional schools. This -means admitting about 4,000 more students this year and expanding our present educational resources to take care of them.

3. To employ a limited number of non-professional workers, including nursing aids, to assist nurses with clerical, housekeeping, and other duties.

4. To increase the number of nurses in the teaching and executive groups where there is at present a definite scarcity, and to develop more specialists in public health nursing, industrial nursing, psychiatric nursing, etc.

5. To encourage individuals and families to reduce the number of private nurses employed for patients not seriously ill and to prepare them by making available many more home nursing and first-aid courses.

6. To secure additional funds to assist nursing schools in expanding their present facilities. A recent federal appropriation of $1,200,000 has been made for the training of nurses for national defense, largely as a result of the efforts of the Nursing Council on National Defense.

Teachers and other educational specialists can help:

1. By getting these facts over to people in their own communities.

2. By interesting capable, intelligent girls in nursing as a field of service and encouraging them to prepare themselves adequately for it. The better educated volunteers who are interested in nursing should be encouraged to enter professional schools even if they drop out when the emergency is over. While they are learning, they are helping, and the more they learn the more they can help. In this way also they get the best return from the investment of their time and abilities.

3. By helping to direct promising applicants into good nursing schools that are able to give a sound preparation for the demands of nursing today. Nursing schools differ widely in their educational and other facilities. There are now many collegiate schools of nursing offering programs leading to a degree. These and most other schools of good standing want students to have at least junior college education or the equivalent before they enter upon their professional training.

4. By securing and mailing to others—especially high school and college students—a good collection of books and pamphlets on nursing. Following are a few suggestions:

From the Nursing Information Bureau, 1790 Broadway, New York:

Nursing and the Registered Professional Nurse. 1941.

Nursing, A Profession for the College Graduate. 1941.

Nursing and How to Prepare for It. 1940.

From the American Red Cross, National Headquarters, Washington, D. C.:

Uncle Sam Needs Nurses. 1941.


Deming, Dorothy. Penny Marsh, Public Health Nurse. Dodd, Mead, & Company, New York, 1938.

Boylston, Helen D. Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse. Little, Brown, & Company, Boston, 1938.


Nurses in the Making. The Harmon Foundation, 140 Nassau St., New York.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 43 Number 1, 1941, p. 9-11
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 9088, Date Accessed: 1/23/2022 4:52:06 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Isabel Stewart
    Professor of Nursing Education, Teachers College

Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue