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Changes in Nursing Education

The level of education that nurses have received over the years is an ever changing thing. What used to be solely on the job training has now evolved into college programs that even expand into the doctorate degree level. As technology changes and becomes a larger part of the nursing world, more education will be required of nurses as they move from high school on their way to the work force. All of the changes in education are designed to produce the most qualified, competent nurses to care for a patient.

Before World War I, most of the training for nurses was done on the job or they would bring their nursing skills they knew from home to the hospital. A majority of the nurses were young girls right out of school. These girls rarely completed an elementary education and even fewer had made it to high school or graduated. These girls would work for at least 50 hours each week at the hospital and would be responsible for all of the care of the patients there. At the end of their training term, only two or three from each class would be asked to stay on at the hospital to become an even higher trained nurse.

Between 1920 and1960, the discussion of the importance of a standardized nursing curriculum was started and schools specialized toward teaching nurses started to spring up across the country. Still, since a large portion of the public did not use hospitals but sought care at home instead, the demand for nurses remained low. After World War II, a push was made by the government to offer hospital care for all people so the demand for nurses rose. Along with the demand for nurses, millions in federal dollars was funneled into scholarships to get young girls, as nurses were mostly women at that time, to go to college to receive their nursing training.

Now, every student who wants to become a registered nurse must obtain at least a bachelor of science degree in nursing. Training for nurses changes on a yearly basis because of all the advances in technology and medication that is made rather quickly. For some positions, even higher degrees than a bachelor’s degree are required. There are numerous master’s degree and doctorate degree programs for nursing offered in colleges across the country. Even after nurses have been hired to a position, continuing education is a big part of their job and is needed to stay current on the changes in medicine.