Isabel Hampton Robb When the Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

First, she felt that there should be a national standard for nursing education, decided upon by "many really experienced in the requirements for such work" (Hampton, 1894). This would result in a uniform coursework, with roughly equivalent graduation requirements, regardless of the school (Hampton, 1894). She proposed making nursing a three-year program, and limiting practical instruction to 8-hours a day, to ensure that students had sufficient time to learn new material (Hampton, 1894). She believed that nurse training programs should be run like other higher education programs, with "stated times for entrance into the school, and the teaching year should be divided according to the academic terms usually adopted in our public schools and colleges" (Hampton, 1894).

Case Western Reserve University

One of the more interesting facts about historical nursing is that nurses were typically unmarried or widowed women. In fact, nurses were oftentimes required to live in nursing homes in order to work in public-duty positions. Those nurses who were married were often employed as private duty nurses (Bullough, 2002). Therefore, it comes as little surprise that when Robb married Hunter Robb, a doctor, in 1894, she resigned her position as a nurse with John Hopkins Hospital. However, what is somewhat surprising is that Robb's marriage did not end her involvement with the nursing profession. Instead of simply becoming a housewife, Robb continued to actively educate future nurses.

When the couple moved to Cleveland, Robb "became a professor of gynecology at Case Western Reserve University" (Bullough, 2002).

In addition to teaching gynecology, while working at Case Western, Robb "took an active role in the development of the curriculum for the new hospital" and helped found the Lakeside Training School, which is now known as the Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing (Francis Payne, 2009). There, she attempted to institute her ideals that nurse training "should not only prepare women to give compassionate care to the sick, but also to take an active role in reforming the conditions that produce illness" (Francis Payne, 2009). While she was not able to remedy all of the problems plaguing both nursing education and the nursing profession at the time, Robb did have a noted impact on Lakeside. Even before World War I, "the Lakeside Training School achieved a reputation for producing excellent graduate nurses" (Francis Payne, 2009).

Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada

Robb was also president of the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (NAAUC), which is now known as the American Nurses Association (ANA). In fact, she was its first president in 1897 (AAHN, 2008). Robb helped set up the 1896 meeting that was the first convention of the NAAUC. She was one of less than twenty nurses in attendance (ANA, 2009). "Not one of the original attendees was a registered nurse, there were no laws licensing nurses at that time" (ANA, 2009). However, Robb, as well as the other attendees pushed for higher standards in both nursing education and the practice of nursing, which helped lead to licensure for nurses. The NAAUC became the ANA in 1911.

Even after retiring from the active practice of nursing, Robb maintained an active role in the profession. As noted above, she taught gynecology at Case Western. However, she also helped establish the nursing program at Columbia University. There she directed the establishment of a hospital economics course at Teachers College. This course eventually "became the base for the department of nursing education" (Bullough, 2002).

International Council of Nurses

The influence of Robb's time in Rome could be seen in her later professional years, because she sought to change increase the importance of nursing, worldwide. Robb was one of the founding members of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) in 1899. The ICN was the "world's first and widest reaching international organization for health professionals" (ICN, 2009). It is an organization operated by and for nurses, with the goal of ensuring quality nursing care, sound global health policies, the advancement of nurse education, and the advancement of nursing as a profession. The ICN has three goals and five core values (ICN, 2009). Its three goals are "to bring nursing together worldwide; to advance nurses and nursing worldwide; [and] to influence health policy" (ICN, 2009). Its five core values are: "visionary leadership, inclusiveness, flexibility, partnership, [and] achievement" (ICN, 2009). These modern goals and values reflect the goals and values of Robb, one of its founders.


Robb wrote three major books throughout her career as a nurse. The first book was Nursing: Its Principles and Practice, which was published in 1889. The second book was Nursing Ethics, which was published in 1900. The third book was Educational Standards for Nurses, which was published in 1907. The books' titles adequately explain their content. Additionally, Robb was one of the members of the founding committee of the American Journal of Nursing, which began publication in 1900 and continues to be one of the most respected nursing journals in the world.


During her lifetime, Robb made tremendous contributions to the nursing profession. She helped reform nursing education from nurse training to a formal educational system, with a dual emphasis on technical instruction and practical application. She also helped establish educational requirements for nurses, making it clear that nursing was an aspirational vocation, and not something that just any person could do. Given what she accomplished in a relatively short period of time, one can only speculate what Robb's lifetime accomplishments would have been had she lived a full life. However, Robb died on April 15, 1910, after being hit by a trolley car. She was survived by her husband and two sons (AAHN, 2008).


AAHN. (2008). Isabel Adams Hampton Robb. Retrieved February 7, 2009, from American

Association for the History of Nursing, Inc.

Web site:

ANA. (2009). Where we come from. Retrieved February 7, 2009, from American Nurses


Web site:


Bullough, V. (2002). Isabel Adams Hampton Robb. Retrieved February 7, 2009, from NurseWeek

Web site:

Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing. (2009). A reformer's spirit: the Lakeside Hospital

Training School. Retrieved February 7, 2009, from Case Western University

Web site:

Hampton, I. (1894). Educational standards for nurses.…

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