Nurses on the front line: The 1918 influenza pandemic and COVID-19

Nursing. 2021 Jun 8. doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000756352.39139.16. Online ahead of print.


This article identifies and describes the experiences of US nurses in the 1918 influenza pandemic and compares them to nurses' experiences today as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings are based on traditional historical methods with a social history framework. Because of advances in nursing, medicine, and science, nurses' work is quite different today than it was in 1918. Yet two facts remain the same: In the setting of a pandemic of a dangerous virus for which there are few proven treatments and no vaccine, skilled nursing care is critical to patient outcomes; and support from federal, state, and local governments, community organizations, and volunteers is as important now as it was in 1918.