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Keyword: Nursing Education, Nursing, Nursing School, RN Degree

Nurses in History: Mary Breckinridge While much is known bout Mary’s contributions to nursing many do not know how she entered the field. Mary was raised in the late 1800’s when ladies seeking careers were frowned upon. Her cousin was one such individual, which had upset Mary’s mother. She wanted her daughter to follow a traditional route. Mary was taken to nursing school to gain her education. However, it was the trials in her life that caused her to seek refuge in the nursing career. Her children’s deaths and divorce fueled her. She first joined the American Committee for Devastated France; this is where she believes she found her life’s calling. Mary is the founder of the Frontier Nursing Service; it was also to her credit to family care centers were created in America. She has worked to improve the lives of countless women and though her nursing education was able

Profound Changes in America During Mary’s years serving as a nurse in France, she saw many new techniques that she would take home. She trained and studied the healthcare system and found ways to meet the needs for women in rural America. She would take this home, to the mothers and babies throughout her home. Leading the charge was her desire to learn. She attended the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies for training and instruction. Because the United States did not offer or practice the use of a midwife, this would be where she learned of this institution. This is the birthplace for the Frontier Nursing Service; after she had returned home to Kentucky she began a committee, which later grew into this service. Being widely religious, she began a school functioning as the nursing headquarters and an Episcopal Sunday service. The “Big House” was used for many years a midwifery school. Now those studying to be a midwife will appreciate her years of learning and training. Midwifery is a practice that offers care to women during their pregnancy and child bearing.


Being able to assist mothers during the pregnancy, after, and between the many children is an honored career Mary worked as a midwife, helping mothers and newborns. Inspired by the loss of her first child, a baby girl who was born prematurely. Her son continued to stock her desire to help mothers, when he was claimed as a toddler from appendicitis. Now midwives are commonly sought out for expectant mothers and even function for many women as their primary care provider.

Remembering Mary While her work was not life changing for all, as many of the other well known nurses of history – Mary was commemorated in 1998 with her face on the US Postal Service stamp. The series of Great Americans stamps was truly an honor to remember the changes for new mothers and their experiences. In addition, Mary compiled a book of her memories. “Wide Neighborhoods� is still available though publication at the University of Kentucky Press. These books are still used to learn from for those seeking an RN Degree or just attending nursing school.


Nurses in history mary breckinridge