National Nurses Week


Pediatric Nursing- An Historical Timeline


Colonial America: Babies born at home by midwives, cared for by their families; physician care (limited in what it could do) reserved for the wealthy.

Second half of the 19th Century: Like pediatric medicine, the specialty of pediatric nursing developed at this time.

1832: Boston Lying-In Hospital founded, one of the nation’s first maternity hospitals (now part of Brigham and Women’s Hospital)

1855: First children’s hospital (Philadelphia) generally regarded as the beginning of pediatric nursing as a specialty. Their purpose was to provide excellent care and to decrease (abysmal) child mortality. (Quickly followed within the next decade: Boston, NYC, Washington DC, San Francisco, Albany, Detroit, St. Louis). Most did home care as well. Interestingly, they did not initially admit children with infectious diseases- would result in to much spread and mortality. It has been posited that the founding of increasing numbers of hospital schools of nursing was responsible for this changing in the late 19th century. Hospitals finally had enough (non-paid!) staff to care for all these children.

Late 19th, early 20th Century: Public and private community health efforts evolved, focusing on children; nurses, especially public health nurses, very involved

1893: Lillian Wald, then a nursing student, founded the Henry Street Settlement in on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, employing 37 nurses. To this day provides arts classes, shelter services, senior services, workforce development, daycare, after school and summer programs for children at 11 sites

Early 20th Century: “Child saving movement;” “milk depots provided low/no cost pasteurized milk (infants, too?!!.) Nurses often staffed to educate mothers, sometimes providing home visits

1921: Sheppard Towner Act - federal money allocated to improve maternal child health. Many nurses placed in infant welfare centers and in educational classes for mothers, midwives, helpers.

1923: Goldmark Report by the Committee for the Study of Nursing Education, commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation. This was very critical on the state of nursing education, including areas where many hospital schools of nursing were deficient such as in education devoted to the nursing care of children. Essentially said these programs were designed to meet hospitals’ staffing needs, not the nurses’ educational needs

1937: NLN Committee on Curriculum – It’s the second revision of “Standard Curriculum” and states that to provide for normal development, “…the hospital routine visiting schedule should assist in maintaining home contacts through visiting of children by their parents.” Prior to this some critics have suggested that the medical establishment saw an inpatient stay as a good time to separate poor children from their parents and inculcate them with middle class values. It was a LONG time before this was fully operationalized.

1954: Researcher and educator Florence Baker’s book, The Child, His Parents and the Nurses published

1964: The PNP movement starts. The Silver Report is published, documenting the PNP movement

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