IN MEDICAL, as well as in any other form of history, there are small incidents which bring into focus great issues. Such an incident was a dispute concerning the hiring of nurses and their functions which in 1880 thoroughly disrupted Guy's Hospital. The outcome of the dispute symbolized the destruction of organized medical resistance to the idea that had been growing for 100 years of nursing as a profession.
The establishment of secular nursing is inextricably bound to the work of Florence Nightingale. The first training school organized according to her precepts opened in 1860 at St. Thomas' Hospital in London. During the succeeding 20 years, many other hospitals developed schools to train professional nurses: for example, Liverpool Hospital in 1862, Edinburgh Hospital and New England Hospital for Women in 1872, Bellevue in New York in 1873, and St. Bartholomew's in London in 1877.1,2
Although Guy's Hospital had