FEBRUARY 26, 1941
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—We had rather an interesting press conference yesterday morning, and I learned a great deal about the present need for nurses in both the Army and Navy. The American Red Cross registers these nurses and tries to keep an up-to-date list, but, of course, the average nurse thinks of being called into the services only in case of war.
Here we are facing a situation where we are not at war and yet where we have a dislocation of population. Young men who would ordinarily be taken care of in their homes, are suddenly placed in a camp for training. The Army, particularly, needs a great many more nurses than they have had in the regular service. By the first of June, in fact, they want several thousand to report for duty. I believe when the facts are brought to their attention, many young nurses will answer this call.
How quickly things change! A few years ago, I received many letters from nurses who could not find work. When I went to the graduation exercises in the Harlem Hospital School for Nurses this winter, I was told there are not enough nurses in training to meet the needs of the New York City institutions alone.
Of course, the standards have been raised. They need a better educational background and the training is stricter. It seems to me to be good training for a girl, whether she is going to earn her own living or is going to marry and live in a community. It will help her as a wife, mother and neighbor. If she takes up nursing as a profession, it offers her great satisfaction in services, as well as a fairly secure livelihood.
Miss Mary Beard, National Director of Red Cross Nursing Service, Major Julia O. Flikke, Superintendent of U.S. Army Nurse Corps, and Miss Sue S. Dauser, Superintendent of U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, spoke to members of my press conference yesterday, so I am sure that the conditions under which nurses enter the services are well understood throughout the country.
My afternoon yesterday was spent seeing people who were interested in special fields. In the evening, Mr. Frederick M. Davenport brought his group, the National Institute of Public Affairs, to spend the evening. These young people asked many searching questions. They are an intelligent group of young people and I have always enjoyed meeting them every year.
They spend a year here in the government service and know many of the difficulties and complexities of government machinery. Last night I was interested to hear that well over two-thirds of them are either in the federal service, or in state government service and are seriously undertaking these careers as a life work. It speaks well for the future of democracy and I wish every success to them.