Nurses to the Rescue!


  • Petra Hokanson


This article explores the role of nurses in the United States during the outbreaks of the Spanish Influenza between 1918 and 1920. It describes the rise of nursing from an untrained service to a trained profession during a time of national hardship. It argues that the epidemic provided women with a chance to successfully insert themselves into the male-dominated medical field by providing valuable services to a nation paralyzed by the Spanish Influenza and World War I. The article follows the pandemic, its debilitating nature, and its deadly toll while analyzing the growing importance of nursing, not only for the medical field and the patients, but also for the women who became nurses during this time. It concludes that the Spanish Flu enabled women to blaze a trail to higher education and careers, regardless of gender, class, and race.