A nurse giving care at Tacoma General

Growth of nursing schools and increased demand for trained nurses #

After the war, and as the nation moved toward the Great Depres­sion, nursing too followed the general pattern. Twenty-five percent of U.S. nurses were working in commu­nity health and public health to eradi­cate TB, improve mater­nity and infant care and take health care to rural areas. Because of the tremen­dous demand during and immedi­ately following the war, nursing became caught in a web of over-optimism. Nursing schools were crowded with new students and within a few years the occupa­tional fields became saturated as new gradu­ates sought employ­ment. Nursing had been warned of an over-produc­tion of nurses” and by the late 1920’s unemploy­ment had reached alarming rates. As is usually the case, problems of this era drasti­cally affected nursing of the future. Higher educa­tional require­ments, shorter working hours and general duty staff nursing all began as possible solutions to the problem of over-supply. 


  • Following the War, the Univer­sity of Washington Depart­ment of Nursing is reopened. Eliza­beth Sterling Soule is appointed as Depart­ment Head. The curriculum includes a new nine-month course in public health nursing. 
  • WSGNA goes on record asking for military rank for nurses in support of ANA’s position and the US Congress adopts a bill giving partial rank to nurses. 


  • WSGNA estab­lishes a Private Duty Section to address the special interest needs of nurses working as private duty nurses. 
  • Seattle hosts the Biennial Conven­tion of the American Nurses Associ­a­tion and more than 4,000 nurses attend. 


  • In WSGNA’s contin­uous campaign to improve the Nurse Practice Act, an amend­ment is passed abolishing the waiver of exami­na­tion for nurses who had gradu­ated before 1911. 
  • Etta B. Cummings, WSGNA’s first Treasurer, dies and leaves her house and estate ($2,500) to estab­lish the Etta B. Cummings Memorial Fund to be used for Sick and Worn Out Nurses of Washington State.” [Note: This fund is still in existence and is now admin­is­tered by the Washington State Nurses Founda­tion Trustees.] 


The efforts to improve nursing educa­tion leads to the forma­tion of the Washington League for Nursing Educa­tion to work closely and collab­o­ra­tively with WSGNA. 


  • King County Nurses estab­lish a central direc­tory for hiring private duty nurses and averages 1,550 calls a month. Other profes­sional private duty registries are started in Spokane and Tacoma and operated through the mid-1960s. 
  • The WSGNA Private Duty Section, is instru­mental in the promo­tion and eventual statewide adoption of 12-hour duty for private duty nurses. By the end of 1925, accep­tance of the 12-hour duty is reported from Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Wenatchee, Walla Walla and Grays Harbor. 


Member­ship in WSGNA grew to 1,127, and in 1928, the Secre­tary of WSGNA (paid staff) was requested to visit every district at the expense of the associ­a­tion. This was the begin­ning of field work! 


  • On January 1, the first issue of The Bulletin,” the official publi­ca­tion of WSGNA, was published. Later, The Bulletin’s name was changed to Washington State Journal of Nursing.” 
  • The Commu­nity Nursing Service was organized in Seattle with 11 nurses and later changed its name in 1934 to Visiting Nurse Service.”