Contrasting the profession 1905-2005

When the first Grey Nun arrived in Saskatoon in 1907, she could not have foreseen the vast changes that nursing would undergo in the next century. At the most fundamental level, the description of who nurses has changed in Saskatchewan. A century ago, when Saskatchewan became a province, the Grey Nuns were a large nursing presence. Now, however, nursing has become secularized so that any person, man or woman, can become a nurse. Even with the teachings of Florence Nightingale, Saskatchewan's early nurses were largely women of faith.

Nursing education has also evolved. In the days of the early twentieth century until the late 1960s, nursing training happened in individual hospitals where nurse trainees provided work in return for their training. With the introduction of the Centralized Teaching Program in 1953, the emphasis began to shift from in-hospital training to classroom learning. Currently, most nurses' schooling is carried out in a classroom. Although there is still more to learn during a students' practicum in the hospital.

Over time, nurses uniforms have transformed from white, starched uniforms with caps to the more comfortable cotton shirt and pant combination (or "scrubs") that we see in hospitals today. There are mixed feelings about the uniform's transformation. While "scrubs" are certainly more comfortable, some agree that a more formal uniform gives nurses an air of professionalism to which current uniforms cannot subscribe.

With all of the changes that nursing has undergone in the last century, the fundamentals of nursing remain the same. New technologies and increasing specialization may change the way that nurses practice, but the commitment to the patient remains unchanged. For all of the changes that will come in the future, commitment to patient care is one aspect that nursing cannot afford to change.