Growth of nursing schools and increased demand for trained nurses
After the war, and as the nation moved toward the Great Depression, nursing too followed the general pattern. Twenty-five percent of U.S. nurses were working in community health and public health to eradicate TB, improve maternity and infant care and take health care to rural areas. Because of the tremendous demand during and immediately following the war, nursing became caught in a web of over-optimism. Nursing schools were crowded with new students and within a few years the occupational fields became saturated as new graduates sought employment. Nursing had been warned of an “over-production of nurses” and by the late 1920’s unemployment had reached alarming rates. As is usually the case, problems of this era drastically affected nursing of the future. Higher educational requirements, shorter working hours and general duty staff nursing all began as possible solutions to the problem of over-supply.
Following the War, the University of Washington Department of Nursing is reopened. Elizabeth Sterling Soule is appointed as Department Head. The curriculum includes a new nine-month course in public health nursing.
WSGNA goes on record asking for military rank for nurses in support of ANA’s position and the US Congress adopts a bill giving partial rank to nurses.
WSGNA establishes a Private Duty Section to address the special interest needs of nurses working as private duty nurses.
Seattle hosts the Biennial Convention of the American Nurses Association and more than 4,000 nurses attend.
In WSGNA’s continuous campaign to improve the Nurse Practice Act, an amendment is passed abolishing the waiver of examination for nurses who had graduated before 1911.
Etta B. Cummings, WSGNA’s first Treasurer, dies and leaves her house and estate ($2,500) to establish the Etta B. Cummings Memorial Fund to be used for “Sick and Worn Out Nurses of Washington State.” [Note: This fund is still in existence and is now administered by the Washington State Nurses Foundation Trustees.]
The efforts to improve nursing education leads to the formation of the Washington League for Nursing Education to work closely and collaboratively with WSGNA.
King County Nurses establish a central directory for hiring private duty nurses and averages 1,550 calls a month. Other professional private duty registries are started in Spokane and Tacoma and operated through the mid-1960s.
The WSGNA Private Duty Section, is instrumental in the promotion and eventual statewide adoption of 12-hour duty for private duty nurses. By the end of 1925, acceptance of the 12-hour duty is reported from Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Wenatchee, Walla Walla and Grays Harbor.
Membership in WSGNA grew to 1,127, and in 1928, the Secretary of WSGNA (paid staff) was requested to visit every district at the expense of the association. This was the beginning of field work!
On January 1, the first issue of “The Bulletin,” the official publication of WSGNA, was published. Later, The Bulletin’s name was changed to “Washington State Journal of Nursing.”
The Community Nursing Service was organized in Seattle with 11 nurses and later changed its name in 1934 to “Visiting Nurse Service.”