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How being a nurse has changed in the last 50 years


A lot has changed since nurses wore white skirts and stockings to work.

Nurse Appreciation Week begins Monday on National Nurses Day. Ahead of the holiday, Business Insider looked at some of the biggest changes to the industry in the last five decades.

Fifty years ago, doctors still treated nurses as assistants, and the role was seen as an extension of women’s caregiving instead of as a career. The role required less formal education, and nurses had just a “rudimentary” understanding of scientific medical care, according to Minority Nurse.

Read more: What it’s REALLY like to be a nurse, one of the most satisfying and in-demand jobs in America right now

Today, nursing makes up the largest workforce in healthcare — and continues to grow as America’s baby boomer population ages. Nurses can attain various higher education certifications and degrees, and can be highly specialized in new fields like forensic nursing and informatics. Though the industry has made strides in gender and racial diversity, discrimination still exists.

Here’s a visual look at some of the ways nursing has changed in the last 50 years:

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