The History of Nursing in Canada: From WW1 to Today - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1362 Words
Date:  2023-03-13

The history of nursing in Canada can almost be considered the history of Canada as a country. Nursing has been in Canada for the longest time. The nursing has undergone various changes over time, and the changes have been brought by major events such as World War 1 and 2.It has made the profession what it is today. During World War 1 and World War 2, nurses were part of the military since their services were highly needed in treating the wounded soldiers. World War 1 and 2 provided an opportunity for Canadian nurses to be engaged in different war zones and situations around the world. Throughout the war period, the Canadian nursing profession learnt many things which included new nursing cultures. The cultures leant from other regions, and countries had an impact on the Canadian nursing culture (Rutherdale, 2010).

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Impact of World War 1 and 2 on Nursing Culture in Canada

The two world wars introduced a culture of courage in Canadian nursing. Nurses were never used to working in tough situations, some of which required them to make personal sacrifices. Both world wars meant that nurses had to work in battle zones and sometimes go beyond the usual scheduling and duty stations to help the wounded soldiers. Some nurses even sacrificed themselves to help the enemy militaries, and they paid dearly for that. Some were also executed for being accused of spying (Hallett, 2014). Most nurses' were never interested in the war part of it but the helping hand they could extend to the wounded men in uniform. Theirs was a profession that provided care despite the war and the dangers that came with it. The Canadian nurses faced the challenges that came with the war and extreme weather conditions to provide comfort and care to the injured. That was an act of courage which became part of the nursing culture in Canada (Hallett, 2014).

Canadian nurses are known to be useful in rapport creating and communication, and this can be attributed to their participation in the two world wars. It is a culture they have had since the world war one and 2.During the world war; nurses were required to communicate with the wounded soldiers and generals and sometimes the enemy force. The nurses had to do well in communication to make sure that they get all the necessary medical information that they needed to treat the wounded soldiers on the battlefield (Hallett, 2014). A wounded soldier could quickly get treatment through good rapport and communication from the nurse. Canada had provided nurses in their military who went to the battle zones with the military. The nurses had to learn the art of excellent communication and rapport creating. It is so that the military can feel free with them to the extent that they would treat each other as patriots and colleagues in the war zones (Hallett, 2014).

World War 1 and 2 made nurses in Canada have the ability and will to work in severe conditions. The pioneer nurses who worked in the military barracks and the war zones had to endure hardships while still having the intention to continue providing medical care and love to those wounded. No one would wish to work in severe conditions, but the Canadian nurses were highly involved in both world wars (Hallett, 2014). The nurses who returned to Canada helped influence and create the younger nurses the passion and love for nursing. Passion and respect for the nursing profession have continued to impact the culture of nursing in Canada. The battle zones, especially in Cold Europe and severe conditions in Africa, introduced a culture of Persistence, ability and willingness to always work in any situation (Hallett, 2014).

Canadian nurses developed a culture of cultural competence from their experience in both World War 1 and world war 2. Working in the battle zones meant the Canadian nurses had to treat military men from different countries that were allied to Canada (Hallett, 2014). Cultural differences play a critical role in healthcare provision and being culturally competent makes it useful when working in culturally diverse regions. Cultural competence gives the Canadian nurses an opportunity and ability to work everywhere around the around and also to work at the highest level possible because they can work in different cultures. The World wars helped the Canadian nurses travel around the world and integrate with different cultures which helped introduce a culture of cultural competence in the Canadian nursing profession (Hallett, 2014).

More Women Nurses Working Outside the Country for a Pay

The word war did lead to more women working outside their home country for pay. The Canadian women nurses were recruited into the army to offer support to the military men who were on the battlefield. The military felt the impact of having nurses on the battlefield to provide much needed medical support. Hence their place in the history of the world war was cemented(Hallett, 2014). More and more women accepted the idea of joining the military to support the army men who were working overseas fighting. World War 2 had more women compared to world war 1. Women had now entirely accepted the idea that they too can work outside their country for a living (Rutherdale, 2010).

During World War 1 and 2, more women were mobilized by the government to come out of their homes and join the men in the war. They were encouraged to work in the weapon factories to provide the much-needed labour for quick production of weapons. Photos of women with dirty hand s were used to mobilize more and more women to get their hand dirty, too (Hallett, 2014). It meant that if some women could get their hands dirty, many more women had no reason to. The weapon factories were located far away from their home and families. They had to sacrifice themselves to go work in other regions for pay which helped change the society's culture about women. It now became acceptable that women could work outside their primary areas to earn a living. Even after the world war, women felt that they could do much more as opposed to being a stay at home moms. After the war, many women did not want to quit their jobs. They wanted to continue working at any place, including outside country. The world wars changed women's attitude towards employment. They were willing to work anywhere (Rutherdale, 2010).

The enrollment of nurses increased during the wartime. More women nurses were willing to help the military women in the war zones. They envied their colleagues had gone to World War 1, and they felt that they too wanted to make an impact. Working outside their home country made them integrate with other cultures and feel at home. They had developed a capacity to work anywhere and still do their best. Sometimes people fear to work in different regions for fear of the people and their culture (Hallett, 2014). The world wars showed the women nurses' different sides of foreign culture which made them feel comfortable working in other regions as nurses. The nursing profession does not change. The women nurses felt that their training could be acceptable anywhere and therefore operating outside their home for a pay became more and more acceptable (Rutherdale, 2010).


Nurses are an essential part of society. Their medical help was significant. During the world war, most militaries more so the Canadian military realized the importance of nurses. The nurses provided the much-needed care and support for injured military men helping the military men focus more on the battle. The world war led to many women nurses accepting to work outside their home country for a pay. The society perspective about women was changing during the world war. Women were as homemakers, but the world war made them move outside their countries like France and Britain to work alongside the military men. Propaganda used by the government to encourage many women to enrol made z positive impact on the history of women nurses. Nursing career became a prestigious career. Many admired the bravery and the sacrifices made by nursing women during the world war.


Hallett, C. E. (2014). Veiled Warriors: Allied Nurses of the first world war. OUP Oxford.

Rutherdale, M. (2010). Caregiving on the Periphery: Historical Perspectives on Nursing and Midwifery in Canada. McGill-Queen's Press-MQUP.

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