Purpose: To examine the attempts by Isabel Hampton Robb and Mary Adelaide Nutting to reshape nurse training into an academic system of nursing education. As health care delivery undergoes transformation in the 1990s, it is useful to consider the strategies used as well as the successes and failures, of past nurse leaders.
Design: Historical research.
Methods: Archival data were analyzed in 1996 pertaining to the creation in 1889 and administration of the nursing school and hospital founded by Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Events were studied using published and unpublished writings by Hampton and Nutting, as well as relevant secondary sources.
Findings: Separated by class from those with power, and limited by 19th century notions of women's place, Isabel Hampton Robb and Adelaide Nutting helped inaugurate nursing's quest for professionalization. Undaunted by adversity, they achieved novel accomplishments for women and nurses. Hampton and Nutting possessed vision, intelligence, the capacity to motivate, political skills, good judgement, and managerial competence.
Conclusions: Hampton's and Nutting's inability to strengthen the link between the school of nursing and the Johns Hopkins University and the lack of unity within nursing limited their success. This research illuminates some of the controversies pertaining to nursing during an earlier period of sweeping health care change.