Born this day in 1866: Annie Goodrich (1866–1954), one of the most influential nurses of the 20th century and pioneer in the professionalization of nursing
Goodrich was born to a well-to-do family in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She was educated at home and at private schools, both in the U.S. and abroad. In 1890 she entered the New York Hospital Training School for Nurses. At that time, nursing school was little more than 12-hour days of unskilled hospital drudgery in exchange for room and board. Goodrich recognized that neither education goals nor the needs of patients were being met by this system.
She began studying hospital administration, with the goal of changing the way hospitals and nursing schools trained nurses. Beginning in 1892 she held administrative posts at several institutions, including the New York Hospital (1892 and 1902–1907), the New York Post-Graduate Hospital (1893–1900), St. Luke's Hospital (1900–1902), and the Bellevue and Allied Hospitals (1907–1910). At these institutions she established a variety of practices to help professionalize and standardize nursing. She raised educational requirements for students, standardized the curriculum, expanded clinical experience (especially in obstetrics and public health), and developed professional standards. She drew a clear line between the professions of nursing and medicine. Each profession had a distinct skill set in her mind: While the medical professionals diagnosed illnesses and established treatment, nurses organized and administered patient care.
Goodrich was a strong advocate for the registration and licensing of nurses. She led the push for professionalization of nursing at the state, national, and international level. She served as president of the International Council of Nurses (1912–15) and the American Nurses Association (1915–18).
In 1917 Goodrich became director of the Henry Street Visiting Nurses Service, which provided health care to New York’s poor. The following year, at the onset of World War I, she convinced the U.S. to found the Army School of Nursing and served as its first dean. This was a major triumph for the profession of nursing, for it established the use of trained nurses, rather than volunteers, to serve the military. Her work with the army nurses earned her a Distinguished Service Medal.
Her final triumph came in 1923, when she was tapped to be dean of the new School of Nursing at Yale University. This was the first nursing program to award a bachelor-level degree for nursing.
Goodrich was also a suffragist and a member of the National Woman’s Party. She was inducted into the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame in 1976.
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