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Moral Inhabitability and Educational Environments

  • Edie West
Chapter

Abstract

By the beginning of the twentieth century, urbanization, industrialization and immigration contributed to the rapid rise in the number of hospitals in America and Britain, a change that continued well into the twentieth century [1]. Nightingale’s strategy of nurse education which in effect meant the staffing of hospitals with a strictly disciplined labour force of probationers (women) who practised under the watchful eye of physicians (men) was one which was based on the existing culture as much as it was the institutional framework of the hospital. In Nightingale’s effort to make the profession ‘respectable’ within the culture, it had to be tied to the prevailing Victorian idea of womanhood and subordinate to medicine [2]. This inherently created a system that was too strict to yield enough nurses to meet the demand, even at a time when women were not given a choice of ‘vocation’ outside of teaching or nursing. The system of nurse education conceived in this fashion made political and economic sense for its time and the model existed in both America and Great Britain with some variations. Hospital nurse training schools opened in both countries because of a need for nurses to staff them. It was an exploitative system whereby a cheap labour force of female nurses worked 12-h days, 6 days a week, 50 weeks per year in a strict, paternalistic, demanding, physically, emotionally and mentally draining environment, a system free from any contractual agreement with the hospital or the school at the completion of their training [3]. These schools developed due to a social need, and their growth was fuelled by the advent of two World Wars [4].

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edie West
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana University of PennsylvaniaIndianaUSA

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