2019-02-08 / Viewpoint

Nurse Corps fought to include male nurses as officers

2nd Lt. Elizabeth Carleton, RN
Eisenhower Army Medical Center


Spc. Joseph Parmenter, LPN, left; 1st Lt. Joshua Davis, RN; and 2nd Lt. Jacob Schurter, RN; all serving on Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Medical Surgical Pediatric floor, take the time to pose for a group photo. 1st Lt. Chelsey Freland / Eisenhower Army Medical Center Spc. Joseph Parmenter, LPN, left; 1st Lt. Joshua Davis, RN; and 2nd Lt. Jacob Schurter, RN; all serving on Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Medical Surgical Pediatric floor, take the time to pose for a group photo. 1st Lt. Chelsey Freland / Eisenhower Army Medical Center As the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) approaches its 118th year this month, it is important to reflect on the changes and advances this corps has made through the years. One of the major changes has been the inclusion of male Soldiers commissioned as nurses.

Learning about ANC history and the leaders who helped mold this branch of the Army into what it is today is important in continuing to progress in the right direction to foster the mission of the ANC.

In 1901, the ANC was created by and initially comprised of only females. This was the only branch of service in which women could serve. Although men took part in various jobs throughout the medical field, the Army did not recognize them as nurses.

Prior to the start of the Civil War and decades before the creation of the ANC, legislation was passed that authorized enlistment of male hospital stewards, or assistive medical personnel, for care of the sick and wounded. Their duties included making beds, tending to patients’ personal cleanliness – including the eradication of bedbugs and body lice – and ensuring patients changed their underclothes at least once a week.

Moving forward, the male nurse actively sought service in World War I. They upheld the same standards and training as their female counterparts, however, were classed as orderlies and paid about one half the salary of the female nurses.

With the civilian sector accepting the idea of male nurses into the American Nurses’ Association in 1940, the efforts to introduce male nurses into the military escalated. For several years after World War II, discussions between the Army Nurse Corps, government officials, and male nurses persisted.

On Aug. 9, 1955, Congress passed a law authorizing commissions for male nurses in the U.S. Army Reserve for assignment to the Army Nurse Corps branch. Sept. 30, 1966, Congress furthered the progression by passing a law authorizing commissions in the Regular Army for male nurses. Ever since, the Army Nurse Corps has been greatly enhanced by the inclusion of male nurses in completing the mission of the corps.

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