The Evolution of Nursing Research During 1900 Through 1950
Created by:
Derrick LeBeau
Monica Montgomery
Deborah Dymond

1900: American Journal of Nursing First Published

The significance of the American Journal of Nursing being published in 1900 is important because the journal itself provided a basis for nursing science and research. It is imperative that the profession of nursing is aware of recent clinical research in order for the profession to learn and develop as the focus on health care continues to grow. The American Journal of Nursing offers a reference of resources that generate research discussions on evidenced-based nursing practice. This resource has been used in the history of nursing practice and clinical nursing research. Nursing research is dependent on numerous aspects of the profession such as, discussion, clinical trials, case studies, and even controversial issues related to health care. The American Journal of Nursing incorporates each of these aspects in one simple publication that can be accessed from anywhere around the world.

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1907: Mary Adelaide Nutting Became the First Professor of Nursing

Mary Adelaide Nutting was active in educating the public and future nurses about the political and social issues of nursing in the 20th century, including the importance of nursing research. She co-authored "A History of Nursing" which was a historical narrative to enlighten nurses regarding their professional heritage. She researched nursing contributions over the course of fifteen years, calling on the nurses of the day to continue to promote nursing professionalism and research similar to their predecessors, such as Florence Nightingale. She encouraged formal training of nurses and spoke to the importance of socially conscious nursing. Her significant contributions to nursing research included serving as a role model as the first nursing professor by encouraging nurses to perform research and for her push on educational curriculum, and not just hospital skills training for educational nursing programs.

1923: Teachers College at Columbia University Offers the First Educational Doctoral Program for Nurses

The opening of the doctoral of education program in nursing at Teachers College at Columbia was significant to nursing research in that it prepared nurses to become educators for the profession at a doctoral level as well as promoted the study and implementation of nursing research. This level of education focuses on designing, conducting and implementing nursing research. The program prepared nurses to teach at nursing programs throughout the nation and helped open doors for the moveTC.jpgment of the 1920s that nurses needed to be educated at universities in both educational backgrounds and nursing skills. The program prepared nurses to perform research at the doctoral level and to teach nurses how to perform research at the graduate level. With the creation of the doctoral program, nursing was scene as a profession and gained respect in the medical field. Today research is still a large portion of the curriculum for doctoral nursing programs.

1923: The Goldmark Report was Published

Under the Rockefeller Foundation, a committee was formed to study both public health nursing and nursing education. In 1923, this committee published what is known as the Goldmark Report. This committee recommended that nursing education, which was primarily implemented in the hospital setting, be conducted in the University setting instead. This committee recommended and supported increasing nursing professionalism and further advised that nurse educators be required to have an advanced educational level, which is significant to the progression of nursing research and the profession of nursing. Although initially hospitals resisted, partially because of the free labor nursing students provided, this marked the beginnings of the continued advancement and view of nurses as professionals. Increasing the roles and expertise of nurses through education helping prepare future nurses for advancing nursing science, nursing research, and the advanced technology of the times.

1929: Yale University Offers the First Masters Degree Program

The first Masters Degree program for nursing was offered at Yale University in 1929. The offering of this degree was a significant step in the progression of nursing as a profession, a practice, and is also important through the initiative of nursing research. As a Masters prepared nurse, the profession can now benefit from graduate level nurses who contribute to and conduct research in the field of nursing. This stepping-stone to a higher level of graduate learning and research solidifies the practice of nursing as a true profession and as a science. The development of a nursing Masters Degree program at Yale University in 1929 has set the foundation for the continuing advancement of nursing. Even today, research in the field of nursing is a fundamental part of any Masters Degree program in the evolving profession of nursing.


1932: The Association of Collegiate Schools of Nursing Organized
In 1932, The Association of Collegiate Schools of Nursing organized to promote nursing research and to improve nursing practice and education. The association's goal was to form a unified standard of education and curriculum within nursing schools. Part of the required curriculum was nursing research. The association believed nursing research was crucial to advance the practice of nursing and to provide the best education possible to nursing students and care to patients. Because of the association to research, it sponsored the first nursing research publication, Nursing Research, in 1952 to help better distribute nursing research. In 1952 the Association of Collegiate Schools of Nursing and The National Organization for Public Health joined to form the National League for Nursing an association that is still present today, governing the education standards and requirement for nurses and well as participating and funding nursing research. They are also the accrediting body for nursing schools and educational programs.

1936: Sigma Theta Tau International Research Grant


In 1936, Sigma Theta Tau International funded the first nursing research grant in the United States. The significance of providing nursing research grants can be related to the progression of improving health care provided by nurses and to the evolution of the nursing profession. Funding is needed to ensure adequate resources are available to conduct nursing led research, and without proper funding certain research initiatives may not be as successful to the profession. Nursing research grants can also lead to developing future nursing scientists, which can also lead to a cyclic production of much needed and well funded evidence-based research initiatives in nursing.


1946: The Division of Nursing Created Within the Office of the Surgeon General
In 1946 the Division of Nurse Education was replaced by the Division of Nursing within the Office of the Surgeon General. Lucile Petry served as the first director, and her duties included representing the Public Health Services (PHS) on national boards and on legislative issues. She provided information and consults to government and state agencies, studying and reporting the nursing needs of the PHS, studying and suggesting improvements in nursing programs as well as practice and to design and implement research. During the same year the Hill-Burton Act authorized the first federal grant to build new hospitals, medical facilities, laboratories and improve universities to encourage research in the field of medicine. An earlier act passed in 1944, the Public Service Health Act, provided the authority for the PHS to perform research so after the creation of the Division of Nursing, the director was in charge of studying and providing information to the federal government on how to allocate the funds to help better support and conduct medical research. This event is significant in nursing research because it opened a position for nurses to be involved in research at a state and national government level. It also separated nursing from medicine and helped shed light on the importance of nursing research. The position led to the improvement of nursing programs and hospitals so that research could be performed adequately. It also led to the federal funding and involvement in nursing research, which would continue to provide funding to this day.


1948: The Brown Report was Published.

In this report, Esther Brown promoted and fought for advancement of the nursing profession. She spoke to the need to expand the nursing knowledge base and supported the quest to implement this through nursing research. During this time period, there was a movement from the education of nurses in the hospital setting to the university setting and Associate and Baccalaureate degree programs were growing. This report further stressed the need for nurse educators to be involved in nursing research. A nursing professor of the time, Isabel Maitland Stewart, further promoted the need for nursing research to give a scientific base to nursing knowledge and worked to standardize nursing curriculum.

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