Black and white depiction of Florence Nightingale treating soldiers during the Crimean War
Black and white depiction of Florence Nightingale treating soldiers during the Crimean War

Infographic: Significant Events in Nursing History

Stretching back nearly 170 years, the history of nursing is a rich and fascinating one. See our infographic below for a timeline of significant events in nursing history.


Texas Woman's University presents 'Significant Events in Nursing History.' 1954, Florence Nightingale begins the practice of modern nursing, convincing the Western world of the value of educated nurses. 1863, Mary Ann Bickerdyke cares for 2,000 troops on her own after the Battle of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. 1865, During Civil War, Capt. Sally Tompkins and Phoebe Levy Pember increase respect for nurses among Americans. 1863, The Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing is founded in NYC, becoming the first school of nursing established on the principles of Florence Nightingale. 1865, The American Red Cross is founded by Clara Barton, becoming its first President. 1909, The University of Minnesota School of Nursing bestows first bachelor’s degree in nursing, setting a new standard in training and education 1918, During a flu pandemic in Texas, an African American nurse, Viola Pettus, heroically saves countless lives. 1923, The Frontier Nursing Service is founded by Mary Breckenridge. Under her guidance, nurses travel via horseback to deliver care. 1939-45, During WWII, over 59,000 women serve as nurses in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, and over 11,000 in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. 1950, Texas Woman’s University opens the state’s first nationally, accredited nursing program. 1953, Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare attempts to declare a ‘Nurse Day.’ President Eisenhower declines the proclamation. 1954, Texas Woman’s University’s nursing program begins in Dallas, at Parkland Hospital. 1955, Elizabeth Lipford Kent becomes first African American in the US to earn a Ph.D. in Nursing. 1960, Over 170 college nursing programs are opened across the country. 1974, Florence Wald, Dean of Yale Nursing School, establishes Connecticut Hospice and launches a hospice movement in the US. 1980, Master’s-level nursing degrees become a standard requirement for advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) certification 1982, The American Nurses Association (ANA) formally recognizes May 6th as ‘National Nurses Day.’ 2004, The American Association of Colleges and Nursing (AACN) recommends APRNs continue education and earn a Dr of Nursing Practice degree. 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) designates 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife.” Today, 871 U.S. schools offer nursing education. Texas Woman’s University’s top-ranked Family Nursing Practitioner (FNP) program is available online! Join TWU’s innovative culture for nursing professionals. If you would like to learn more about this infographic, or TWU’s Family Nursing Practitioner (FNP) program, email

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