["A nurse fed with pompous words": working conditions and the primary nursing demands at the beginning of the 1900s]

Riv Inferm. 1993 Apr-Jun;12(2):91-7.
[Article in Italian]


Working conditions of nursing personnel at the beginning of the century varied widely from hospital to hospital: the number of working hours could range from 10 to 15 hours a day, with up to ten fold variability of (overall low) salary. Social security, holidays and retirement pensions were just dreams. Nurses had no right to proper meals and had to sleep in crowded, noisy and unhygienic rooms: the relationship between these conditions and quality of care was often debated on professional journals and in the Parliament. Unfortunately nursing Leagues were reluctant to go on strike because they did not want to harm patients. Pressures were put on hospital administrators in order to obtain more human living and working conditions for nurses: strike and claims were considered detrimental for the mission of nursing. The claim for a set of rules homogenous all over the country was opposed with the reason that extra money spent for nurses, would have been subtracted from resources available for patients.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / economics
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / history*
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits / history
  • Women, Working / history