Superheroes in Scrubs: Depictions of Nurses in Comics

Nurses and Comics Featured Image

By Jessica Clark, MA

It’s that time of year again where comic book fans from across the globe descend upon San Diego for Comic-Con International, the famed comic book convention.  As the Bates Center’s Pinterest page illustrates, the nursing profession has been depicted in various comics and graphic novels. From Wonder Woman to Jane Foster to Night Nurse, here are some of the most well-known depictions of nursing in comic books.

Continue reading

Midwifery Goes Mainstream

Princess Kate and Prince William made headlines when choosing to use midwives (Pictured right: Arona Ahmed and Jacqui Dunkley Bent)

Duchess Kate and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge made headlines when choosing to use midwives (Pictured right: Arona Ahmed and Jacqui Dunkley Bent)

by William F. McCool, PhD, CNM, RN, FACNM

Childbirth is the strong basis by which all species continue to exist, and for human beings it is most often a demanding, yet healthy journey. Over the millennia, mothers have given birth with the support of fellow women who learned the strength and willpower that laboring brings.  These supportive caregivers have had several titles throughout history, but the most common of these is “midwives.”

Continue reading

Asking the same questions: Premature infant care and the survival of the smallest

Philadelphia General Hospital nursing staff, circa 1895. Image courtesy of the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing.

By Briana Ralston, PhD

A recent New York Times article stated:

“A small number of very premature babies are surviving earlier outside the womb than doctors once thought possible, a new study has documented, raising questions about how aggressively they should be treated…”

Though this statement was made regarding present studies, it could have easily been published 40 years ago during the early years of neonatal intensive care in the United States. Indeed, our current fascination with saving sick babies is not a recent phenomenon, but one whose roots sink back over the past century.

Continue reading

What Would Florence Nightingale Do (WWFND)?: Nightingale and 21st Century Health Care Reform

WhatWouldNIghtingaleDo?

Editors’ Note: The mythology surrounding Florence Nightingale has often ignored or glossed over her role as an innovative applied statistician. Nightingale was doing sophisticated polar graph charts and thought experiments before think tanks and blogs existed. As we wrap up this year’s National Nurses Week and celebrate Nightingale’s 195th birthday, we thought it would be a good idea to look at how Nightingale would approach our modern health care issues. What follows is a fascinating scenario from Nurse and Mathematician Thomas Cox which positions Nightingale in the 21st century to make sense of our current healthcare reforms in the US.

Continue reading

3 Archival Principles for Emails

archival principles graphic

The following blog entry is the first in a series exploring archival issues of relevance from both historical and contemporary perspectives. For more information about the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing’s archives and collections, please visit our website at http://www.nursing.upenn.edu/history

 By Tiffany Hope Collier & Jessica Clark

It seems we can’t avoid discussing emails these days.  The last few months have seen both a movie studio executive and a Veteran Affairs administrator lose their jobs for mocking and ridiculing people in emails they assumed were private. Continue reading

5 Myths of Gerontological Nursing

Gerontology nurse with patient at bedside, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 1972. Image courtesy of the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing.


Sarah H. Kagan PhD, RN

We live in the age of aging. Unprecedented longevity juxtaposed against declining birth rates means the older population is expanding  at rates we have never encountered before.   Aging defined in positive terms – “healthy aging” anyone? – is increasingly popular. But discussing realities like health care is far different.

Continue reading

3 Nurses to Celebrate During Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, a time where we highlight the contributions of women to society. Comprising the largest health care profession, the vast majority of nurses (93%) are women making it highly appropriate to end Women’s History Month with a look at three nurses of historical note.

Continue reading