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Army Nurse Corps History Home > Army Nursing History in Pictures > History of the Army Nurse Corps, Slide Presentation with Narration

HISTORY OF THE ARMY NURSE CORPS
(Slide Presentation with Narration)

SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR

However, with the onset of the Spanish-American War came the epidemics of typhoid fever and various tropical diseases which rendered the Hospital Corps inadequate to meet the military health care need. At this point, the Surgeon General appointed

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Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee, who was then Vice President of the Daughters of the American Revolution, acting Assistant Surgeon General, and placed her in charge of selecting nurses to work for the Army.

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She set stringent requirements which included graduation from a training school and a favorable recommendation. Slightly over 1500 nurses signed contracts and served in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the

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Philippine Islands, Hawaii, China, Japan and on the hospital ship Relief.

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Because of the outstanding job done by these nurses during the Spanish-American War, a movement began to make the nurse corps a permanent part of the Medical Department. It met defeat for several reasons:

1. Did not set a minimum number of nurses which would ensure the permanent existence of the corps.
2. Placed funding of nurse pay in the hands of the Surgeon General, who would have to secure appropriations.
3. Dr. McGee herself opposed the bill because it required a nurse to lead the Corps.

She stated, "In fact, the very qualities which make the best nurse are the opposite of those which make the office executive, and it is impossible to find a nurse who has had any training or experience in desk work.

Dr. McGee then submitted her own proposal for a permanent nurse corps. This proposal became a part of the Army Recognition Act of 1901. Congress amended the Act to stipulate that the Superintendent be a graduate nurse. The Bill became law on 2 February 1901.

She later commented on a nurse as Superintendent: "It is an advantage - other things being equal to have a nurse as a Superintendent... but other things do not always happen to be equal."

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Mrs. Dita Kinney was appointed the first Superintendent of the ANC. Nurses were appointed in the Regular Army for a three year period. The appointment could be renewed prior to its expiration provided the applicant had a satisfactory record. It wasn't until 1934 that the requirement to apply to continue service was dropped.

Knowing that a peacetime organization might not meet the needs during war, the law directed the Surgeon general to maintain a list of qualified nurses who were willing to serve in

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an emergency. In 1911, while Miss Jane Delano was Superintendent of the Corps, the enrolled nurses of the American Red Cross became the primary source of reserve nurses for the Army.


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