Born this day in 1858: Mary Adelaide Nutting (1858–1948), influential nurse and nursing educator who raised the standard of nursing education and hospital administration
In 1891 Nutting was part of the first graduating class at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She became the school’s superintendent in 1894. Nutting elevated the standard of education at the school and for nursing in general. It may sound strange, but at the time it was difficult for nursing students to actually obtain training while at nursing school. The hospitals regarded nursing students as a pool of cheap labor, keeping them working for 60–105 hours per week. Nutting limited the number of hours a student nurse could work, extended the training program from two to three years, and instituted a scholarship program to assist needy students. She tapped alumnae for an endowment in order to free the nursing school from its financial dependence on the hospital. She also established a professional nursing library at Johns Hopkins.
Nutting began teaching part time at Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1899, eventually leaving Johns Hopkins for Teachers College. In 1907 she joined Teacher’s College full time, becoming the first nurse appointed to a university professorship and serving as chair of their new Department of Nursing Education (1910–1925). She developed programs in hospital administration, nursing education, public health, and related fields. In 1917 she published the Standard Curriculum for Schools of Nursing, which standardized the quality of nursing education.
Nutting helped to establish the American Journal of Nursing in 1900. Nutting is also the author of several important works in the field of nursing, including the four-volume History of Nursing (1907–1912, which she co-authored with Lavinia L. Dock) and A Sound Economic Basis for Nursing (1926). Her 1912 monograph, Educational Status of Nursing has been called one of the “seven historic publications by which the nursing profession now measures its progress.”