No, this post isn’t about past American Idol contestants, or Simon Cowell kissing Lakisha Jones. This post is about teenage idols of the past. In 1950, Life Magazine asked American teenagers to list the individuals they admired most, and guess what! Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale were mentioned on the list. The American public has always admired nurses, but I was surprised when I learned that teenagers use to idolize nurses. Then I remembered some nursing history that may explain the results of this survey.
In 1943, the U.S. government established the United States Cadet Nurse Corps. According to the Rochester General Hospital website, its primary purpose was to ensure that the United States had enough nurses to care for the needs of its citizens on both the home and war fronts. Our government actively recruited high school girls to join the Cadet Nurse Corps. Many girls saw this as an opportunity to help the U.S. during a time of war, as well as a way of paying for a nursing education. A student nurse who joined the Cadet Nurse Corps was eligible for a government subsidy that paid for her tuition, books, and uniforms as well as a small living stipend. In return, participants in the Corps pledged to actively serve in essential civilian, military or other Federal and government services for the duration of the war. The results of the Cadet Nurse Corps included a dramatic rise in the number of nursing students, a greater public recognition of nurses, and changes in the manner in which nurses were educated and trained. I think that lawmakers should resurrect this program in order to help solve our national nursing crisis.