Nurses in American History: The Cadet Nurse Corps -- in World War II

TitleNurses in American History: The Cadet Nurse Corps -- in World War II
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1976
AuthorsKalisch, Beatrice J., and Philip A. Kalisch
JournalThe American Journal of Nursing
Date Published02/1976

During the first year of World War II, the country suddenly faced an appalling shortage of nurses. The military nursing services drew nearly 30 percent of the active graduate nurses from hospitals, health agencies, schools, and institutions at a time when civilian demand for nurses was greater than ever. As the war picked up in tempo in late 1942, the wounded were arriving from abroad in increasing numbers; a bumper crop of babies and their mothers needed professional care; war boom areas were in desperate need of public health nurses; and through the new hospitalization insurance plans, millions of people in the country were receiving hospital care who had hitherto been unable to afford it. Paradoxically, at the same time, hospitals were forced, due to lack of nurses, to close whole wards, sections, or even entire floors. A rapid build-up of students was considered to be the fastest way of replacing and expanding the hospital nurse force. This article traces how the severe shortage of nurses caused by World War II prompted the first massive federal aid to nursing education, and how the program that resulted sparked improvements in nursing education.

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