What is the Army Nurse Corps?
The Army Nurse Corps is the oldest of the Federal Nursing Services and was established by law shortly after the Spanish-American War (2). More than 59,000 American nurses served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II. They served under fire in field hospitals and evacuation hospitals, on hospital trains and hospital ships, and as well as flight nurses on medical transport planes. Without their skill and dedication these nurses contributed, the death rate would have been much greater. Fewer than 4 percent of the American soldiers who received medical care in the field died from wounds or disease.
World War II created numerous new social and economic opportunities for American women. Society as a whole and the United States military found an increasing number of roles for women. As more women started entering the work industry, the need for nurses clarified the status of the nursing profession.
The Army is no place for playgirls according to Mrs. Julia Flikke, the highest-ranking woman officer in the Army.
“Girls must come in with the idea that they want to give the best they have in the way of service. Those who are just seeking excitement or a good time won’t do. The spirit of service should come first. As for a career, there isn’t anything better” (1).
How does one become an Army Nurse?
To be eligible to an appointment in the Army Nurse Corps, a applicant must be graduated from an accredited school for nurses, a registered nurse, a citizen of the United States, and lastly between the ages of 22 and 35 years old. The woman is also obliged to pass a physical examination prior to her entrance into the service, as well as following afterwards. The women who fulfill these requirements are then placed upon the eligible list (2). During the years 1943-1948 the government provided free education to nursing students.
“A nurse seeking appointment must be willing to serve for the duration of the war and six months afterward. If, as many have done, she falls in love with some Army officer and gets married, ‘we drop her'” (1).
There were special advantages of being an Army nurse. The advantages included the great variety of the nursing service, the hours of duty, and after a couple years of being an Army nurse, the good pay. As well as the Army granted its nurses officers commissions and full retirement privileges, dependent’s allowances, and equal pay.
The pay of members in the Army Nurse Corps is stated as the following, “first period of three years, $70 per month; second period of three years, $90 per month; third period of three years, $115 per month; and after nine years’ service, $130 per month” (2). The pay was great for Army Nurses, as well as the advantages that came along with the job.
Overall, beginning an Army Nurse during World War II had great benefits and the best of all was that women were able to serve and help for their country. World War II changed American society and redefined the status and opportunities of the professional nurse.
(1) By The, U. P. (1942, Apr 23). Calls Nurses Corps Career for Women. New York Times (1923-Current File) Accessed March 16, 2015.
(2) Stimson, Julia. “Concerning the Army Nurse Corps.” The American Journal of Nursing, Vol. 25 (No. 4) (1925): 280-282. Accessed March 3, 2015.
(3) “The Army Nurse Corps.” WW2 US Medical Research Centre. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.