Nursing through the Years: 1900s to 2020

See how nursing in Jacksonville has transformed through the years.

By: Susan Martin

Nursing Then and Now

Job Duties

Education and Tuition


Nursing Fun Facts

  1. Brewster Hospital and the Brewster School of Nurse Training were established as two of the most-needed institutions in Jacksonville in the early 1900s. It was the first hospital for Blacks in Florida, and one of the two schools of nursing for Blacks in the Southeast.

  2. The Florence Nightingale Pledge pays tribute to Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. It was written in 1893, but has been updated throughout the years to reflect modern times. It is often recited at graduations or special programs and events.

  3. In 1916, the Florida Legislative Nurses Registration Act took effect. This required nurses in the state with the appropriate training and experience to take an examination to qualify for registration. They became what we know today as a “registered nurse,” or R.N.

  4. Nurses have incredible tools that didn’t exist more than 100 years ago, which have helped make their jobs safer and more efficient, from latex gloves, protective gear and disinfectant to smartphones, tablets and internet access.

  5. During World War II, the Brewster School of Nurse Training began participating in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. The purpose of the Cadet Nurse Corps was to recruit and train young women in nursing, and to increase the number of nurses willing to serve their country, while ensuring there were still enough nurses to serve the civilian population. Participants were given a stipend, assistance with books and tuition, and special U.S. Cadet Nurses Corps uniforms.

  6. Today, nursing is a field appealing to both men and women. It’s a career that attracts professionals of all races, religions and creeds. It even attracts returning students who may have had gaps in their education or those who want to make a career change.

  7. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2016 – 2026, registered nursing is listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2026. The Bureau projects the need for an additional 203,700 new R.N.s each year through 2026 to fill new positions and to replace retiring nurses.

  8. Technology has transformed how modern nurses work:

    RFID-enabled devices make monitoring hospital assets easier, ranging from drugs and equipment to records and patients.

    High-tech equipment and web cams that can monitor vital signs make caring for multiple patients much easier, and have changed how hospitals operate.

    Electronic records are easily managed, accessed and maintained through tablets and wireless workstations.

    Applications like Zoom and Skype can be used in place of some in-person training sessions.

  9. Nurses in 2020 have increased flexibility in their work schedules, compared with those in 1901. For example, nurses in some areas may work longer shifts but fewer days.

  10. The majority of the workforce in most hospitals is composed of nurses.

  11. On average, nurses walk four to five miles every 12-hour shift they work.

    Visit to learn more about our diverse history. 

a Brewster nurses in their cadet uniforms. Taken from the book “A Charge to Keep.”
a Florence Nightingale