The profession of nursing has been around for centuries, but the development of nursing as a calling truly took off in the 19th Century with the work of Florence Nightingale. Nightingale saw the need to bring professionalism to nursing. She was instrumental in developing training the nurses need as well as the uniform which helped give them a professional look. Part of the uniform that was accepted was the nurse’s cap.
The nurse’s cap was designed after a nurse’s habit, as a way to pay homage to the work of nuns as the earliest nurses. The cap's original use of the nurse’s cap was to keep a female nurse's hair neatly in place and present a professional appearance. Over the course of time the nurse’s cap evolved into two styles. One is a long nurse’s cap which covers most of the nurse’s head and the other is a short nurse’s cap which sits on top of the head.
The nurse’s cap has also had a ceremonial purpose. For many years the nurse’s cap was used in a ceremony for new nurses. The capping ceremony was instituted as a way to present a nurses cap to students who have completed school work prior to beginning hospital training.
The nurse’s cap has undergone several changes throughout the years. The origin of the cap was the habit that nuns wore. Over the years, the nurse’s cap has evolved from a large cap, which virtually covered the entire head of a nurse to the current version which is just a small cap which sits on top of the nurses head.
However, over the course of time, the nurse’s cap has been used less and less. In some hospitals, the cap is still used by nurses. However, due to concerns of the cap being a carrier of bacteria, the cap has been. Also, with the increasing number of men in the nursing profession, the nurse’s cap has gone away being replaced by nursing scrubs.
While the nurse’s cap is not widely used in the modern era, the cap still has an important place in the history of nursing. From the days to Florence Nightingale to the present day capping ceremonies, a nurse’s cap is a symbol of one of the noblest professions – nursing.