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Nurse Assistants


From earliest times, healthy people have been called upon to care for the sick and injured. Methods for dealing with illness exist in all societies and are a necessity for any type of community life. The social and economic development of societies throughout history has been closely tied to the fundamental need to tend to the unwell.

To care for the sick in their midst, early Greek, Indian, Chinese, Aztec, and other civilizations established special caregiving places resembling today's hospices and hospitals. The spread of Christianity gave new impetus to efforts for caring for the sick. Monasteries had infirmaries for their own sick members, and they welcomed pilgrims and travelers who were ill to use their facilities. Military and chivalric groups also tended to the sick with hospital and charity work. Two hospitals were founded in the 11th century in Jerusalem by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John, who cared for both the mentally ill and the physically ill.

As the practice of medicine has become more complex, the need for nurses—and consequently nursing aides—grew. In the 19th century a nurse named Florence Nightingale led a movement for reform in nursing. In 1873 the first school of nursing in the United States was established in New York City at Bellevue Hospital.

The increased burden on trained nurses has made nursing aides irreplaceable. Aides provide basic care for those who are incapacitated or who need the same services regularly, which frees nurses and doctors to minister to their patients.

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