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Dear Professor and Classmates—

For this post, I chose Isabel Hampton Robb. As stated at the beginning of the chapter reading, she was “First president of the American Nurses Association” and “Organized the Nurses’ Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada” (Judd & Sitzman, pg 83, 2014). However, that is just the beginning.

Isabel Robb was born a Canadian in 1860 as one of seven children to English immigrants. She was first a teacher but due to contract limitations, nursing was to become her second career. Overhearing a conversation between coworkers bored with their current teaching assignment, applications to Bellevue School of Nursing were sent for and she subsequently started her education there in 1881. She gained a reputation for intelligence in the classroom and meticulousness inpatient care, however; this second trait made her slower than most and her questions during class did not endear her to her classmates.

After graduation, she accepted a position overseas with St. Paul’s House for Trained Nurses in Rome, Italy where over the next 18 months she had the opportunity to practice in Germany and France as well. She returned to the United States in 1885 where she took up a position in nursing administration in the Illinois Training School as Superintendent. It is here that she was able to develop a curriculum of study and ethics and as a result “the school was classed with the best in the country” (Moody, 1938). In 1889 she was recruited from her position in Illinois by John Hopkins Hospital to work on their training program to much the same effect and success.

In 1893, at the World’s Fair in Chicago, she was the chair for the first major meeting of nursing leaders. She prepared for this by corresponding directly with Florence Nightingale for guidance on the criteria for nursing education standards. She worked towards admission requirements and an established curriculum. In working to network trained nurses, she started the Association of Nursing Alumni which developed over time to the American Nurses Association (Repaving, 2011).

To further contribute to nursing education standards, she authored the textbook ‘Nursing: It’s Principals and Practice for Hospital and Private Use’ which became a mainstay in the curriculum for several years. After marriage, she then wrote Nursing Ethics to help establish standards of ideals and conduct.

Other organizations that she was a member of were: American Red Cross Nursing Service, International Council of Women, International Council of Nurses, Committee member of the International Educational Standard, and a lecturer at Teachers College in Cleveland (Moody, 1938).

It is in Cleveland that she met with a horrible street accident in 1910 and was crushed between two street cars. A memorial trust fund in her honor still provides scholarships to graduate nurses to advance their education and so her legacy lives on to this day.

Thank you,

Alethea

References:

Judd, D., & Sitzman, K. (2014). A history of American nursing: Trends and eras (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Moody S. (1938). Isabel Hampton Robb. AJN American Journal of Nursing, 38, 1131–1139.

Repaving the Path to Professionalism in Nursing Education: In Remembrance of Isabel Hampton Robb. (2011). Nursing Education Perspectives (National League for Nursing), 32(2), 138.

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